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MAY 22, 2006


812 Lawrence Road, Lawrence Township

During the early hours of Monday, May 22, 2006, Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers extricated a young man from the wreckage of a car that had struck a utility pole.

It was 2:02 a.m. when Mercer County Central Communications Center toned out Station 22 for a reported vehicle fire in front of 812 Lawrence Road.

Deputy Chief Chris Pangaldi signed on radio at 2:03 a.m. He was immediately advised by Mercer County Central that the incident was being upgraded to a rescue assignment because additional 911 calls were being received reporting that the driver was trapped inside the vehicle.

At 2:04 a.m. Mercer County Central toned out Rescue 21 from Slackwood Fire Co. and Rescue 23 from Lawrenceville Fire Co. Lawrence First Aid Squad was also dispatched.

Assistant Chief Shaun Dlabik signed on radio at 2:04 a.m.

Pangaldi arrived on scene at 2:04 a.m., followed by Dlabik one minute later, to find that a two-door Honda had slammed almost head-on into a utility pole. The car was not on fire, but its front end was heavily damaged on the driverís side. The 19-year-old driver was trapped.

The utility pole, meanwhile, was completely snapped at its base and being held upright by the wires attached to it. As a result, Pangaldi requested that PSE&G to respond to the scene.

Rescue 22 responded at 2:06 a.m., followed by Engine 22 at 2:08 a.m., Rescue 23 at 2:08 a.m. and Rescue 21 at 2:09 a.m.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Capt. Edward Kitchen and driven by Ff. Brian Laue, with a crew that included Ff. Charles Commini Jr., Ff. Ryan Dlabik, Ff. Jarred Pierson, Ff. R.J. Laird, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr., and Ff. Evan Kutzin.

Engine 22 was commanded by Ff. Matt Farletta, driven by Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr., and crewed by Ff. Mark Lenarski Jr. and Ff. Steven Hodgdon.

Rescue 22 arrived on scene at 2:08 a.m., followed just seconds later by Engine 22.

Lawrence Road firefighters quickly stabilized the badly-damaged vehicle with cribbing, then went in service with their Holmatro Spreaders to pry open the jammed driverís door.

A 1.75-inch hoseline was deployed and the carís battery was secured as a precaution to protect rescuers and the trapped driver.

Rescue 21 arrived at 2:11 a.m. and its crew was ordered to assist Station 22 personnel.

Rescue 23 reached the scene at 2:12 a.m. and took a stand by position nearby.

After popping open the driverís door, firefighters helped EMS personnel place the injured 19-year-old onto a backboard and then into an ambulance.

The extrication was completed by 2:22 a.m. The man, whose injuries were described by police as being not life threatening, was transported to Capital Health System at Fuld hospital.

Rescue 23 and Rescue 21 were released from the scene by 2:25 a.m.

The crews from Rescue 22 and Engine 22 remained on scene to assist police and PSE&G for a brief while. All Lawrence Road firefighters were back in quarters by 2:49 a.m.

Police later said they were investigating if the driver had intentionally crashed his car into the utility pole as part of a failed suicide attempt.

All photos copyright (c) 2006 by Brian Laue.

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