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JULY 19, 2005

WATER RESCUE

Delaware & Raritan Canal,
end of Cherry Tree Lane, Lawrence Township



During the evening of Tuesday, July 19, 2005, volunteers from Lawrence Road Fire Co. were among the emergency personnel who responded to the Delaware & Raritan Canal after a car was spotted submerged in the murky water near the end of Cherry Tree Lane.

The assignment, dispatched as a water rescue, came in not long after Engine 22 returned from a mutual aid standby assignment in Princeton Township and Rescue 22 returned from helping fight a box truck fire at Lawrence Road and Franklin Corner Road.

It was 7:25 p.m. when Mercer County Central Communication Center transmitted Box 21-10 and dispatched all three Lawrence Township fire companies, plus Lawrence First Aid Squad, to the canal.

Because it was unknown if anyone was trapped in the submerged auto, Slackwood Chief Michael Oakley immediately requested that the Trenton Fire Department's marine task force (consisting of Rescue 1, Engine 1 and Ladder 1, along with Battalion Chief Graham Smith) be dispatched.

Rescue 22 responded at 7:27 p.m., followed by Rescue 23 at 7:28 p.m., Rescue 21 at 7:29 p.m. and Engine 21-1 at 7:30 p.m.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Lt. Edward Kitchen, driven by Ff. Ed Budzinski, and crewed by Ff. Michael Trimble, Ff. Brian Laue, Ff. Evan Kutzin and Ff. Matt Farletta.

Chief Wayne Hannon responded in Car 22, while Deputy Chief John Fleming responded in Car 22-1.

Rescue 22 arrived at 7:31 p.m. and took up a position at the end of Cherry Tree Lane with a Squad 129 ambulance, while Rescue 21 and Rescue 1 accessed the canal via the tow path from Whitehead Road.

Ladder 1 and Engine 1 remained on Whitehead Road, while Rescue 23 and Engine 21-1 staged at Cherry Tree Lane and Ohio Avenue.

After assessing the situation from shore, two Trenton firefighters donned wet suits and SCUBA gear and entered the water, using a roof ladder from Rescue 22 to descend the canal's steep bank.

The firefighters checked the submerged vehicle, but found no one. They then relayed the vehicle's license plate to police, who ran a computer check and discovered that the car, a Honda, had been reported stolen from the City of Trenton earlier that morning.

The two divers then hooked a chain to the submerged auto and the vehicle was towed from the water by a tow truck. The vehicle was pulled from the canal shortly before 9 p.m.

Lawrence Road firefighters used a 1.75-inch hoseline from Rescue 22 to decontaminate the Trenton divers.

Rescue 22 was back in quarters by 9:28 p.m.

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