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APRIL 3, 2006


Lawrence Road at Darrah Lane,
Lawrence Township

During the afternoon of Monday, April 3, 2006, members of Lawrence Road Fire Co. responded to an unusual traffic accident in which a sport utility vehicle ended up on top of a car.

The accident occurred at about 2:40 p.m. when, according to police, a Nissan Pathfinder traveling west on Darrah Lane tried to turn left onto southbound Lawrence Road (Route 206).

In doing so, the SUV pulled out in front of a car that was going north on Lawrence Road.

Police said the Honda Accordís driver (a 17-year-old Notre Dame High School student) tried to brake, but her car still hit the SUV's driverís side door.

The impact propelled the Pathfinder upward so that it came to rest on the Accordís hood.

Neither the car's driver nor her passenger (a 16-year-old girl) was injured, police said.

The Pathfinder's driver (a 17-year-old Lawrence High School student) was also unhurt.

But because the Pathfinder was perched at nearly a 90-degree angle atop the Accord, the SUVís driver was initially unable to get out because of fears her vehicle might flip over.

The first township police officer to arrive on scene, Patrolman Ed Budzinski (who is also a Lawrence Road volunteer firefighter), called for a full rescue assignment as a precaution.

At 2:42 p.m. Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 22-10 and toned out Lawrence Road Fire Co. (Station 22), Rescue 21 from Slackwood Fire Co. and Rescue 23 from Lawrenceville Fire Co.

A Lawrence First Aid Squad ambulance and a Capital Health System paramedic unit (Life 791) were also dispatched by LifeComm, Mercer Countyís EMS communications center.

Deputy Chief Chris Pangaldi immediately responded in Car 22-1 at 2:42 p.m., followed by Rescue 22 at 2:43 p.m., and Telesquirt 22, Rescue 23 and Rescue 21 all at 2:44 p.m.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Capt. Michael Byrd and driven by Paid Driver Robert Santello, with a crew of Capt. Michael Ratcliffe, Ff. R.J. Laird and Ff. Ryan Dlabik.

Telesquirt 22, meanwhile, was commanded by Capt. Edward Kitchen, driven by Ff. John Fleming, and manned by Ff. Sean Ryan. Pangaldi arrived on scene at 2:43 p.m., followed by Rescue 22 at 2:44 p.m.

Rescue 22ís crew immediately stabilized the tilted Pathfinder, using Junkyard Dog struts and cribbing to keep it from moving in any way off of the hood of the Accord. Because there was no entrapment, Pangaldi directed all other responding units to proceed at non-emergency speed.

Telesquirt 22 reached the scene at 2:47 p.m. and its crew helped the members of Rescue 22ís crew spread speedie-dry on the road to absorb anti-freeze that had leaked out of the wrecked autos. EMS personnel, meanwhile, assessed the condition of the Pathfinderís 17-year-old driver.

Rescue 21 arrived at 2:49 p.m. and its crew stood by in case they were to become needed.

Finding the girl uninjured, with absolutely no complaints of pain, EMS personnel allowed her to climb out of the SUV on her own, with a helping hand from the EMTs.

At 2:52 p.m. Pangaldi advised Mercer County Central that the driver was out of the SUV. At that time, he recalled all units with the exception of Rescue 22.

Telesquirt 22 was back in quarters by 2:56 p.m.

Rescue 22ís crew remained on location until the Pathfinder was pulled off the Accord and both vehicles were removed by tow trucks. Rescue 22 was back in quarters by 3:25 p.m.

Because of the accident, police diverted northbound traffic onto Oaklyn Terrace for about 45 minutes. Southbound traffic, meanwhile, was allowed to flow at a very reduced rate.

Police said the Pathfinderís driver was issued a ticket for careless driving.

All photos copyright (c) 2006 by Michael Ratcliffe.

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