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JULY 30, 2006


Interstate 95 North near Exit 7A,
Lawrence Township

Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers were among the emergency personnel who responded to a fatal motor vehicle accident during the early hours of Sunday, July 30, 2006.

The deadly crash happened a little after midnight along the northbound side of Interstate 95, just south of Exit 7A, when an 18-year-old Pennsylvania woman lost control of her car.

The Ford Contour apparently drifted to the right, went off the roadway, traveled along the grass shoulder for a distance and entered the woods, where it slammed violently into a tree.

The force of the impact was so great it split the vehicle almost in half.

At 12:17 a.m. Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 23-10. Dispatched at that time were the Lawrenceville Fire Co. (Station 23), Rescue 22 from Lawrence Road Fire Co., and Rescue 21 from Slackwood Fire Co.

New Jersey State Police, Lawrence Township Police, a Lawrence First Aid Squad (Squad 129) ambulance crew, and a Capital Health System paramedic unit were also dispatched.

Rescue 22 signed on radio at 12:20 a.m. with Capt. Edward Kitchen in command, Capt. Michael Ratcliffe driving, and a crew of Ff. R.J. Laird, Ff. Evan Kutzin and Ff. Steven Hodgdon.

Rescue 21 also responded at 12:20 a.m., while Rescue 23 responded at 12:25 a.m.

At 12:25 a.m. Lawrence Road Assistant Chief Shaun Dlabik and Rescue 22 both arrived on location. Lawrence Township police and EMS personnel were already on scene at that time.

EMS personnel were busy attending to a seriously injured male, who had been riding as a passenger in the car. The man, who reportedly climbed from the mangled wreckage on his own, was quickly packaged by EMS personnel, loaded in the back of Squad 129ís ambulance, and rushed to the trauma center at Capital Health System at Fuld hospital in Trenton.

As soon as they arrived, Dlabik and Rescue 22ís crew were advised by EMS personnel and police officers that the carís only other occupant, the female driver, was already dead. As a result, Dlabik ordered Mercer County Central to have all responding units reduced their speed.

Rescue 22 was angled in such a way that the apparatus served to protect rescue personnel from oncoming traffic. As a precaution, a charged 1.75-inch hoseline was stretched from Rescue 22 and Rescue 22ís light tower was raised to illuminate the area for police investigators.

Rescue 21 then arrived and took a position near Rescue 22 to provide additional lighting. As there was no need for additional apparatus, Rescue 23 was recalled at 12:29 a.m.

Slackwood Chief Michael Oakley arrived on scene at 12:31 a.m. and assumed command from Dlabik.

Firefighters then stood by on scene while state troopers investigated the accident, taking measurements and photographs of the crash scene.

Shortly before 2 a.m. a representative of the Mercer County Medical Examinerís Office arrived and removed the body (which was not trapped) from the wreckage.

A tow truck then backed down the grass shoulder into position and carefully pulled the wreckage Ė which was partially wrapped around the tree Ė out of the woods.

Rescue 21 left the scene at 2:35 a.m.

Rescue 22 remained on location until 2:56 a.m. to provide lighting as the tow truck operator secured the wreckage on his flatbed. Rescue 22 was back in quarters by 3:01 a.m.

The officers and members of Lawrence Road Fire Co. wish to express our condolences to the family of the young woman who was killed in this accident.

All photos copyright (c) 2006 by Michael Ratcliffe.

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