I had been towing all night long on July 3. It was a busy night. I finally got home around 6 am, and immediately drifted off into a brief yet deep sleep. Around 7:00 am, the phone was ringing and I had to go back out towing. While many other families were spending time together on a beautiful holiday, I just wanted to go home and go to bed. I arrived back home around 12:00 pm, ready to hit the sack. Shortly after 1 pm, Ontario County 911 center called me and told me that the Bristol Fire Department had a person trapped in a car. They needed my help with a wrecker to extricate the patient. I was at home in Canadice. The accident was on Footer Road in Bristol, about 13 miles from me!
Besides running Bald Hill Automotive, I am also Fire Captain for the Richmond Fire Department. I've trained extensively and worked many accident scenes with the Bristol Fire Department. They are some of the best of the best. If they needed my help, I knew things were going rough. I know every second counts when a victim is trapped. I hurried the best I could. Traffic was very heavy though. I was greatly missing the lights and sirens I normally use in the fire trucks. But, having my fireman's radio allowed me to coordinate directly with the Bristol Fire Command as I approached. They told me which way to come in and then to back up to the scene. With their guidance, I backed right up to the vehicle.
East Bloomfield, Cheshire and Bristol Fire Departments had been working for quite a while before I arrived. Just about every resource that you would find in the fire service was pulled out in multiples. The vehicle was dismantled every possible way and limbs had been cut from the tree. Still, they had a trapped motorist. I just completed Firefighter II class last week. We trained on extrication in great detail. But, nothing could prepare us for this situation. This was one of the most severe accidents I have ever seen. A minivan went down an embankment and hit a large ash tree most likely at highway speed. It was such a severe hit, the vehicle collapsed around the driver, pinning her. The driver's seat had to be pulled back even though its framework was inaccessible to normal extrication tools due to the severity of the crash. That is where my 12 ton wrecker with dual winches soon became worth its weight in gold.
An experienced towing and recovery operator who is also a fireman, was inside the vehicle. I knew all I had to do was work my controls on the wrecker, taking commands from the firemen. In this situation, every inch of space can make all the difference in the world. Every second can be the difference between life and death. Things soon worked quite well. She was then carefully removed from the vehicle and quickly loaded on Mercy Flight. Before we were done picking up equipment, I had a call for a 2 car MVA over in Livinigston county. No rest for the weary!
I met the victim's father the next day and he explained that although she is in intensive care and has a broken leg, they expect her to fully recover.