By Libby Rosequist
North East Police, Fuller Hose Co. 1, Crescent Hose Co. 2 and Pennsylvania State Police assisted on a call after a juvenile driver crashed a vehicle at Freeport Beach. The vehicle collided with concrete barriers at a speed over 100 mph making it airborne before landing upside down in Lake Erie.
“At this time, we cannot disclose the officer on duty or give out further information regarding charges due to the driver being a minor,” Acting North East Police Chief Sean Lam said.
On Friday, July 16, a North East police officer attempted to stop a red SUV for speeding on East Main Street at 4:22 a.m.
A pursuit ensued and was terminated after 46 seconds once the officer lost sight of the suspect vehicle.
After going in excess of 100 mph, the vehicle struck concrete barriers in the Freeport Beach parking lot, landing the vehicle overturned in the water.
The North East officer along with state troopers helped push the vehicle back ashore until help could arrive.
One person was trapped inside and the officers on scene were unable to get the person out.
At 4:33 a.m. Fuller Hose was dispatched to the reported vehicle accident with entrapment.
Assistant Fire Chief Steve Wilkinson arrived on scene first and confirmed with the NEPD and PSP troopers the vehicle was overturned and a patient needed to be extricated.
Wilkinson drove his truck across the beach and towed the vehicle into shallow water to help the officers who were trying to keep the vehicle from drifting farther into the lake.
Chief 201 arrived on scene along with Utility 219, Boat 215 and Engine 204 with 10 volunteers and deployed three water rescue techs to assess the best way to extricate the patient.
Crescent Hose Squad 207 and Rescue 208 arrived and deployed hydraulic rescue tools to remove the driver side door.
At 4:51 a.m. the door was removed by water rescue members, Lt. Chris Skrekla and Brian Ropiecki, the patient was placed on a back-board and transported across the beach to an ambulance.
“This accident was intense and I am extremely impressed with our crew’s quick reaction to the situation,” Wilkinson said. “They used their training and were able to safely remove the patient all while keeping the volunteers safe. Without the help of the officers on scene, this could have been a different outcome for the patient and we are grateful to have officers willing to jump in like they did.”
The car leaked transmission and engine oil onto the beach. North East Township worked with North East Emergency Management, Erie County Health Department and the Department of Environmental Protection to remove 40 tons of contaminated sand and small rocks and brought in 40 tons of new certified beach sand.
“The actions taken by both the NEPD and NEFD are commendable due to their quick response, and a life was saved,” Lam said. “We are always trying to keep the town safe and monitor the speeding complaints sent in by residents.
“To address this issue, we have upgraded our speed timing equipment, increased the number of premeasured painted speed lines and focused enforcement in areas identified by our community members. Concerns or complaints of speeders in our neighborhoods should be forwarded to the police department.”
Goodbans Towing worked with the water rescue team to safely salvage the vehicle and motor from the water.
The investigation is ongoing.