MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT Eggerts Crossing Road,
PHOTO GALLERY #2
The early morning hours of Thursday, July 17, 2003, proved to be very busy for Lawrence Road Fire Co. as Station 22 members responded to a major motor vehicle accident on Eggerts Crossing Road, a fire alarm at the Lawrence Plaza, and then another traffic accident on Princeton Avenue all within a three-hour time period.
It all began shortly after 5 a.m. when a PSE&G utility truck traveling west on Eggerts Crossing Road left the road and slammed into a utility pole in front of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veteransí Affairs building.
The impact completely severed the pole in half. The truck continued on and hit a mail box, sending it flying some 75 feet onto the lawn of the state building.
The truck then struck a tree and took out a large chunk of bark from its side. Finally, the truck flipped over onto its passengerís side, coming to a rest on the sidewalk.
The driver, who was identified by police as a 40-year-old Ewing Township man, was trapped in the cab of the truck. Police said the driver possibly lost control while trying to avoid a deer that was in the roadway.
Lawrence Control dispatched both Lawrence Road Fire Co. and Lawrence First Aid Squad at 5:08 a.m. A Capital Health System paramedic unit was also dispatched.
Assistant Chief Wayne Hannon, who happened to be on the road at the time, immediately responded at 5:08 a.m. and arrived on scene one minute later. He confirmed that there was a PSE&G truck on its side with the driver trapped.
Chief John Fleming signed on radio in Car 22 at 5:09 a.m., followed by Deputy Chief Richard Farletta in Car 22-1 at 5:10 a.m. They both arrived by 5:13 a.m.
Rescue 22 responded at 5:12 a.m., with Capt. Chris Pangaldi in command and Ff. Steve Amiott driving. (Amiott, who had served with the Marines in both Kuwait and Baghdad during the recent war with Iraq, had been back in Lawrence Township for only about six hours at that point.)
Rescue 22 was crewed by Lt. Michael Ratcliffe, Lt. Shaun Dlabik, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr. and Ff. Charles Commini.
Rescue 22 reached the scene at 5:14 a.m. and firefighters immediately prepared to go in service with their Holmatro tools to free the driver.
But rescue tools were not needed as Commini was able to climb up to the cab of the truck and open the driverís door. A rope was then tied between the door and a nearby tree to help Commini keep the door open. Shaun Dlabik brought out the Little Giant ladder to allow better access to the truckís cab.
While this was ongoing, Ratcliffe donned SCBA and stretched the 100 foot 1.75-inch trash hoseline from Rescue 22 as a precaution and Amiott charged the line.
Because no EMS personnel were yet on the scene, Ratcliffe then grabbed the EMS jump kit from Rescue 22 and, while Shaun Dlabik maintained manual stabilization of the driverís neck, placed a cervical collar on the driver as a precaution.
The paramedic unit then reached the scene and took charge of moving the driver from the truck. The driver was freed from the overturned truck by 5:20 a.m. By then, a crew from Squad 129 had arrived and the driver was transferred to a waiting ambulance.
The driver was then transported to the trauma unit at Capital Health System at Fuld hospital, where he was reportedly found to have suffered fractures to both his skull and jaw.
After the driver was extricated, Rescue 22ís crew stood by while several PSE&G crews responded to the scene and worked to secure the live electrical lines and other wires that dangled low where the destroyed utility pole had been.
Township police officers kept Eggerts Crossing Road shut down between Lawrence Road and Johnson Avenue. A postal official, meanwhile, was called out to gather up the contents of the damaged mail box.
Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr., Jr. Ff. Ryan Dlabik, and Jr. Ff. Chris Foley eventually stopped at the scene on their own to view the wreckage. They ended up relieving Pangaldi and Shaun Dlabik, who both had to leave to get ready to go to work.
Ironically, another assignment came in for Station 22 just a few minutes after Pangaldi and Shaun Dlabik returned to the firehouse with Hannon.
At 6:50 a.m. Lawrence Control dispatched both Slackwood and Lawrence Road fire companies for an activated fire alarm at Lawrence Plaza at 2350 Princeton Pike. Lawrenceville Fire Co. was also toned out by Mercer County Central.
Engine 21-1 and Engine 22 responded at 6:55 a.m., followed by Telesquirt 23 at 6:56 a.m. and Snorkel 21 at 6:57 a.m. Engine 22 was commanded by Hannon, driven by Commini and crewed by Pangaldi and Shaun Dlabik.
Engine 21-1 and Engine 22 both arrived at 6:56 a.m., followed by Snorkel 21 at 6:59 a.m. Firefighters quickly discovered the alarm had been pulled by accident by an elderly resident after there was a brief power failure.
The assignment was recalled at 7 a.m. by Slackwood Chief Mark Lenarski. Engine 22 returned to Station 22 by 7:03 a.m.
Meanwhile, back on Eggerts Crossing Road, Rescue 22ís newly-revised crew stood by while two heavy-duty wreckers from Eddieís Tower worked to upright the PSE&G truck. They used a variety of chains and winches and finally managed to get the truck flipped back over by about 7:35 p.m.
Rescue 22 cleared the scene at 7:40 a.m. and was back in quarters by 7:45 a.m. Eggerts Crossing Road remained closed until almost 1:30 p.m. while PSE&G crews replaced the damaged utility pole.
Lawrence Road volunteers barely had time to take off their turnout gear before another assignment came in.
At 7:49 a.m., Lawrence Control dispatched the Slackwood and Lawrence Road fire companies and Squad 129 for an overturned vehicle with possible entrapment near the Capitol Car Wash in the 1600 block of Princeton Avenue.
The accident involved a two-vehicle collision at the intersection of Princeton Avenue and Pine Street. According to police, a 31-year-old Ewing Township man was driving north on Princeton Avenue when a vehicle driven by a 27-year-old Trenton resident allegedly pulled out in front of him while trying to turn left from Pine Street. One of the vehicles overturned but came to rest upright.
Engine 21-1 and Rescue 22 signed on radio at 7:51 a.m. Rescue 22 was commanded by Hannon and driven by Amiott with a crew including Ratcliffe, Commini, Joseph Dlabik Sr., Joseph Dlabik Jr., Ryan Dlabik and Foley.
Engine 21-1 and Rescue 2 both arrived at 7:53 a.m. Rescue 22 took up a staging position near the car wash while Slackwood firefighter assessed the situation.
There was no entrapment found, so Rescue 22ís services were not needed. Rescue 22 cleared the scene at 7:55 a.m. and was back in quarters by about 8 a.m.
Police said the 31-year-old was transported by Squad 129 to the Capital Health System at Fuld hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Police also said the othe rdriver was charged with failure to yield the right of way.