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Pocono Record Articles

Articles from the Pocono Record

Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company

 

April 4, 2016

Deceased Monroe County fire company and auxiliary members honored at service in Tannersville

Firefighters hold candles as the names of those who have died were read during the annual Monroe County Firemen's Association Memorial Service Sunday at St.

 

 

Red Cross helping Jackson family of 12

The Red Cross is helping a family of 12 and their dogs displaced by this Sunday afternoon Jackson Township house fire. (Photo provided)

Firefighters battle a blaze Sunday on Flail Road in Jackson Township. (Photo provided)

The Red Cross is helping a couple, 10 children and the family's dogs displaced by a Sunday afternoon house fire in Jackson Township.
The couple, their children and several nieces and nephews had been living at their Flail Road home, off route 715, when a fire started on the outside of the attached garage, said Jackson Township Fire Chief Lester Wolcott. Damage from the fire, which likely will be ruled accidental, has left the house uninhabitable, said Wolcott.
No one was injured. Jackson Township, Pocono Township, West End and Stroudsburg fire companies and Central Pocono Ambulance responded.
The Red Cross is helping the family with temporary lodging, clothes and food.

Monetary donations to help displaced families can be sent to the Disaster Relief Fund at the Red Cross office, 410 Park Ave., Stroudsburg, PA 18360, 570-476-3800. The Red Cross cannot accept donated clothes, furniture, household items or pet food.

By Andrew Scott
Pocono Record Writer

Posted Dec. 27, 2015 at 4:37 PM
Updated Dec 27, 2015 at 6:27 PM

 

 


Fire destroys Jackson Township homeFirefighters finish working the inside of this Penn Forest Lane home destroyed by a Wednesday afternoon fire in Jackson Township, May 27, 2015. |

Firefighters finish working the inside of this Penn Forest Lane home destroyed by a Wednesday afternoon fire in Jackson Township, May 27, 2015. Andrew Scott/Pocono Record.

By Andrew Scott
Pocono Record Writer

Posted May. 27, 2015 at 8:25 PM
Updated May 28, 2015 at 3:21 PM

 
A Wednesday afternoon fire destroyed a Penn Forest Lane house in Jackson Township, displacing the owners who weren't home at the time. State police were the first to arrive, after the Monroe County Control Center received an alarm from the residence, and found flames coming from the back of the house.
Jackson Township firefighters arrived shortly afterward from a previous fire call at nearby Hillcrest nursing home. Firefighters entered through the front door while Fire Chief Lester Wolcott ventilated the rear sliding glass door, allowing the draft to pull the flames out toward the rear and make the fire easier to control.
The fire possibly started in or near a laundry dryer vent to the rear of the home and spread outward through the rear portion of the house.
It's unknown if the cause was related in any way to storms moving through the area, though neighbors had reported hearing loud bangs, Wolcott said.
Jackson Township Fire Company was assisted by crews from West End, Blue Ridge Hook & Ladder, Pocono Township and Stroudsburg fire companies, along with West End Ambulance.

 

 

 

 

A chimney fire destroyed this Jackson Township home Saturday night. (Andrew Scott/Pocono Record)

A chimney fire destroyed this Jackson Township home Saturday night. (Andrew Scott/Pocono Record)

By Andrew Scott

Pocono Record Writer
Posted Mar. 29, 2015 at 2:57 PM
A chimney fire destroyed a home Saturday night at North and Possinger roads in Jackson Township. No people were hurt, but two cats were lost.
Jim and Linda Schlier, owners of Schlier's Towing in Tannersville, had been renting the three-story house to their employee, Ron LaBar, his wife and their four children, ages 18 to 7 months.
LaBar said his daughter saw the fire, which came out of the wall, and alerted the rest of the family. They escaped as the wind-driven flames consumed the home they had occupied for the past five years.
"We lost everything," LaBar said. "Our whole life was in that house. We need things for the baby."
The Schliers said they welcome the LaBars to stay with them, if needed, until the family finds a new home.
Jackson Township, Pocono Township, Blue Ridge Hook & Ladder and West End fire companies and Central Pocono and West End ambulances responded.
Donations to help displaced families can be sent to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, 410 Park Ave., Stroudsburg, PA 18360.

 

 

 

 

CHESTNUTHILL TOWNSHIP

Fire destroys house in Birch Brier Estates

By Andrew Scott
Pocono Record Writer
March 13, 2015

 

Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company Lt.

An attached-garage fire destroyed a two-story home for sale Friday afternoon on Service Road in Birch Brier Estates, off Route 115 southbound, in Chestnuthill Township.
No one was home when the fire started. A neighbor heard an explosion and then saw the house on fire, though firefighters arriving saw no evidence of an explosion or any propane tanks, said West End Deputy Fire Chief Don Zipp.
Initial reports of someone trapped in the home proved not to be the case.
Declining to be identified, a motorist said he was heading north on Route 115, in the right lane, saw the fire and started to do a U-turn to see if anyone was home and needed help. He said another motorist was passing in the left lane and hit him in his front driver side as he started to turn.
He said he and the other motorist weren't injured, but reported the crash to state police.
West End, Jackson Township, Tunkhannock Township and Polk Township fire companies and West End Ambulance responded. A state police fire marshal was called in to investigate.

 

 

 

Firefighters gather to remember those fallen

By Chris Reber
April 27, 2014

Fire company chaplains hold candles memorializing members who died in 2013 at the 19th annual Monroe County Firemen's Assocation memorial service on Sunday

Chris Reber/Pocono Record

 

Jackson Township first responders to be honored tonight

First responders, including firefighters from Jackson Township, and other heroes will be honored at a ceremony tonight.

A yearly event started by the Burn Prevention Network honors individuals for risking their lives to save someone from a burn or death by fire, or for an outstanding job educating the community about fire safety and burn prevention.

Several people from Jackson Township will be honored. Volunteer firefighter Nick Andriola will be awarded for the heroic effort of rescuing Shelly King from her Chevy cargo van.

Andriola was helped by firefighter Ken Werkheiser, who used a pocket knife to cut King's seatbelt to help free her, as flames were approaching. Fire Chief Lester Wolcott also put himself in danger when he reached in and bent the driver's seat backward to help in the rescue.

Andriola described the incident this way:

"My adrenaline had kicked in at that point. I didn't know if the lady could hear me or not, but I leaned in close to her and said, 'I'm here to help you. This is gonna hurt.'"

Holding King under her arms, Andriola gave a mighty yank and finally got her free.

The ceremony takes place tonight at 8 p.m. at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

Awards also will be given to individuals from Plainfield Township, Allentown, Hanover Township, Clifford Township, Greenfield Township, Mahanoy City, Cherry Ridge Township and Girardville. 

 

September 5, 2013

No one was home when a 9:55 p.m. Wednesday fire damaged a Neola Road house in Jackson Township.
Andrew Scott/Pocono Record

The American Red Cross Pocono Chapter responded to help after a Wednesday night fire at a single-family house on Neola Road, Jackson Township.

The Red Cross provided the family (two adults) with food, clothing, lodging and bed linens.

No one was home when the 9:55 p.m. fire damaged the three-story house.

A passerby spotted the fire coming from the rear second floor bedroom and called 911, said Jackson Township Fire Chief Lester Wolcott.

Flames were coming out through the bedroom windows when firefighters arrived, but the fire was brought under control fairly quickly, Wolcott said.

A state police fire marshal has been called to investigate.

Also on scene were Pocono Township, West End, Blue Ridge Hook and Ladder and Stroudsburg fire companies and Suburban Ambulance.

 

June 25, 2013

Three fire companies were called out to battle a brush fire on Sullivan Trail around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. Jackson Township Fire Chief Lester Wolcott works on some remaining hot spots. Pocono Township Assistant Fire Chief Troy Sebring said that between a quarter to three-quarters of an acre burned in an area that was being cleared for power lines. Sebring said the construction crews were gone for the day when someone noticed the fire and reported it. Pocono Summit fire department was also on the scene.
Melissa Evanko/Pocono Record

 

May 4, 2013

Monroe County lifesavers demonstrate their skills

Top Photo
Jackson Township firefighters Gary Hoffman, left, and John Debell demonstrate how they attack a car fire on Saturday during Public Safety Awareness day at the Monroe County Public Safety Center in Snydersville.Keith R. Stevenson/Pocono Record
 

Armed with a Colt M4 Commando rifle and a Glock 22 .40-caliber pistol, a police officer dressed in dark fatigues led a tactical response team around a two-story building.

A crowd watched from the sidelines as the officers tried to talk a suspect out of a building.

 

BOOM! A door flew open.

As the crowd jumped at the sound of a flash grenade, the officers went inside and came out with the suspect. Heavy applause erupted and cellphone cameras flashed.

This was a typical training exercise for the Stroud Area Regional Police Department's Special Response Team, but it was special day for them to do it in before a crowd.

The exercise was part of several demonstrations that made up Public Safety Awareness Day in Snydersville on Saturday, organized by the Monroe County Emergency Management Agency.

"I think it's important for people to see where their tax dollars are going," said SARP Officer Chris Shelly, who participated in the drill.

Around 1,100 people showed up to the event, according to organizers. This is only the second one of its kind in Monroe County, and organizers are hoping to have one every other year.

"It just gives the folks an up-close look at what goes on at a less stressful time," said Emergency Management Director Guy Miller.

Throughout the day, fire rescue and other emergency response teams from municipal and county agencies put on demonstrations.

"I really loved it," said Vicki Dotson of Jackson Township.

For one thing, it was the first time she could see many of the county's fire battalions all lined up. She marveled at what she called, "the sheer amount of fire companies that came out. There were places that I didn't know had fire companies."

Fire crews from JAckson Township, Barrett Township, Stroudsburg, Kunkletown, Delaware Water Gap and East Stroudsburg, among others, showed off their stuff. The all-volunteer crews also took the opportunity to shake hands with residents, snap photos and teach children all about their work.

"Volunteers are a dying breed," said Capt. Tim Granville of the Stroud Township Fire Department.

Granville, a firefighter of 26 years, said the decline in new volunteers has to do with the changing demographics of the Poconos.

"A lot of people move into the area from the city, and they're used to having a paid fire department," he said.

While the point of the event was to give people a closer look at how first responders operate, it also helped to encourage anyone to volunteer themselves.

"I think the whole thing is fantastic," said Chestnuthill Township resident Michael Pronovich, who brought a handful of his granddaughters in tow. They sat in on a 30-minute presentation by the Monroe County 911 Control Center. The center answered 102,198 incident calls in 2012.

As crews gathered their things to leave for the day, Liana Dotson, a Jackson Township resident barely out of her teens, walked into the county's 911 offices to ask about becoming an emergency medical technician.

"I'll be volunteering," she said.

 

 

February 9, 2013 

Jackson Twp. house fire

 
Top Photo
No one was injured when a fire broke out at 213 Possinger Road in Jackson Township shortly before 6 p.m. Friday. The fire broke out in a small addition to the home, which contained the boiler, and spread to the exterior of the house. The blaze was extinguished quickly, and according to Jackson Township Fire Chief Les Wolcott, it was isolated to the small addition and the exterior of the main structure, with no damage to the interior.Keith R. Stevenson/Pocono Record

 

 

 

'These guys are heroes': Jackson Township firefighters risk their lives to pull woman from burning crash

 

Update: Search continues for missing woman at Big Pocono State Park

 

 

 

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Big Pocono State Park was closed Monday afternoon as police and search teams looked for a missing girl.Melissa Evanko/Pocono Record

 

April 23, 2012

Rescuers planned to continue searching through the night for a 61-year-old woman in Big Pocono State Park after her car was discovered Monday morning.

Angela Mayo of Mount Pocono was last seen Saturday and did not show up for work Monday, according to state police at Fern Ridge.

Bill Friese, park manager for Big Pocono and Tobyhanna state parks, said foot searchers, who had been sent home in the afternoon, were called back to the scene by 6 p.m.

Mayo's silver 2010 Hyundai Accent was found off into the woods, bordering Camelback Ski Area near the Stevenson Express ski lift, at around 8 a.m. by a maintenance worker.

The park has been closed as more people and search dogs are brought in to join the efforts.

A command post has been set up across from the entrance to Camelbeach, with state police at Fern Ridge leading the search. Also on scene are state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officers, Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pocono and Jackson township firefighters and Northeast Search and Rescue members.

Weather is affecting the search, as dogs try to pick up the scent, despite the wet conditions. The wind is picking up, and snow is expected to fall this evening.

As searchers continue to arrive on scene, they are bringing fresh batteries and flashlights. ATVs are taking people to the scene. An ambulance is on standby.

Anyone with information should contact state police at Fern Ridge at 570-646-2271.

Check back at PoconoRecord.com for more information as we have it.

 

 

 

Girl Scout builds fire safety house as teaching tool for kids

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Sam Elliott, a 14-year-old Girl Scout, took on a big project by helping to create a fire and safety house for Jackson Township Fire Company. The structure is designed to give kids instruction on how fire safety and how to evacuate a house in case of fire.Keith R. Stevenson/Pocono Record

 

By Chad Smith

Pocono Record Writer

December 12, 2011

She hammered, sawed, swept and sanded, and she hopes her efforts will one day help save a life.

A Jackson Township girl was instrumental in building a "fire safety house," a hands-on learning environment where children are taught the right way to react during a home fire.

"You'd be surprised what kids do when there's a fire. Some hide. Some run away from the firemen. This teaches them what to expect and what to do," said 14-year-old Sam Elliott.

Elliott, with the help of the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company and others, converted an old, rusty trailer into a structure that looks like a home, replete with a working kitchen and bedroom.

Elliott and the others then rigged the interior of the trailer with smoke machines and other devices to help simulate the conditions of a real fire.

Eventually, a firefighter will lead children through the structure when the machines — which just put out harmless vapors meant to replicate smoke — are turned on.

The kids will learn that they are supposed to crawl on the floor to avoid inhaling smoke and that they sometimes have to use senses besides sight to escape from a smoke filled structure.

"If you're prepared, you're way ahead of the game," said Elliott, who worked on the trailer for more than 100 hours to earn a Girl Scout Silver Award pin.

In addition to learning tips on how to react in a fire — for example, when checking a doorknob to see if it's hot, it's best to use the back of your hand; it's less sensitive — Sam said touring the fire safety house is a good experience for children because it exposes them to the sight of a firefighter in full gear.

"Kids have to learn that firemen in their oxygen masks aren't Darth Vader," she said.

The number of kids under 14 who died in house fires dropped by about 40 percent between 1999 and 2008, according to statistics compiled by the non-profit group Safe Kids USA. About 340 kids in the U.S. died of house fires in 2008.

Elliott said that the fire safety house will probably be completed in October 2012. All the materials that were used to make the safety house were donated by members of the community and the Jackson Township Fire Company.

The fire safety house will eventually be parked in front of the firehouse and be used when the fire company holds an open house.

 

 

From age 15 until his death at age 63 from leukemia in October 2010, Jim Hallett III of Reeders dedicated a large part of his life to serving the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company as a firefighter, elected officer and mentor to younger members.

So, fire company members find it only fitting to dedicate their new firehouse in Hallett's memory. The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the firehouse, located across Route 715 from Reeders United Methodist Church.

Founded in 1952 and now consisting of 45 active members, the fire company began discussing plans more than 10 years ago to build an addition with more space.

"The four garage bays in our old building are below grade and get flooded out," Fire Chief Lester Wolcott said. "You can be walking through water two feet high after a heavy rain."

Plans for the expansion stalled at one point, but continued in earnest about five years ago. A total of about $915,000 has gone into the expanded building, which has six garage bays housing the majority of the company's 10 vehicles and measuring 60 feet deep by 97 feet long.

"It's such a relief to finally have our new building," Wolcott said. "It's a major hurdle we've cleared. Now, we can move on to plans for a new fire truck and getting some landscaping done.

"And it seems only right to dedicate it in Jim Hallett's honor," the chief said. "Jim was always there for the fire company, even after he became ill. It's a great way to remember him and his years of service."

 

 

Thank you letter: Many people helped ease the passing

Where to begin? A world of thanks to all of the Monroe County community. Everyone has been so supportive to our family.

Let's start with the huge benefit this past April. Thanks to our daughter, Rachele, for making it happen and all who helped her. Then the golf tournament — thanks to Randy Rode and Jack Manuel. It was a beautiful day and Jim enjoyed riding around on the golf cart and watching everyone have a good time.

Thanks to Gary Hoffmann and Cub Scout pack 85 for putting on an "in honor of Jim Hallett" memorial breakfast; thank you for all who helped that day.

Thanks to all the people who helped with Jim's medical care. Also thanks to Central Pocono Ambulance, John, Chris and Linda for all your help with the transports.

Thanks to Pocono Township and West End Volunteer Fire Companies for hanging the flag across Route 715 on the day of Jim's funeral services.

Thanks to the Reeders United Methodist Church, Pastor Tim of Reeders and Pastor Todd from Neola United Methodist Church for the beautiful service.

And to all our friends in the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company and Auxiliary for all your love and support you have shown and for all that you did to help us get through a tough time.

If we missed anyone by name we are sorry, but we wish you a thank you also for whatever part you may have helped with.

All help, support, love and prayers were greatly appreciated.

We can't thank everyone enough.

JUNE HALLETT AND RACHELE GAUN

Reeders

 

 

James Stanley Hallett III

October 12, 2010
 

James Stanley Hallett III, 63, AKA "Jungle Jim" and "Big Jim" to all, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010, with his family by his side. Jim fought a hard and courageous year long battle against MDS leukemia.

Born in East Stroudsburg March 26, 1947, he was the son of the late Stanley Jr. and Verlo M. (Possinger) Hallett. He was a lifelong resident of the Reeders/Jackson Township area.

Jim was always a truck driver, working for his dad and uncle at the Lee & Hallett Sand & Gravel Co. in East Stroudsburg, Custom Concrete Co. in Neola, Patterson Kelly Co. in East Stroudsburg and at last was owner and operator of J.S. Hallett & Son Trucking Co. in Reeders.

Jim was an active life member of the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Co. since 1962, The Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie #1106, Stroudsburg, Four County Firemen's Association and the Monroe County Environmental Education Center. He was also a member of the Reeders United Methodist Church, and was an Army veteran, serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1968, serving in Germany as a truck driver in the HQ & CO A 126th Battalion.

Jim was a loving husband, father and friend to all who knew him. He will be forever missed.

He is survived by his wife, June M. (Smith/Drury) Hallett, with whom on Oct. 25 would have celebrated 41 years of marriage; a daughter, Rachele Gaun and her husband, Damon, of Reeders; goddaughters Allison and Jamie Stoner; and nephews, but like sons, Cliff Oppelt, Jason Carrington and Jody Robbins. He was expecting his first grandson in February 2011. He was preceded in death by a son, Rodney L. Hallett, who died in 1988.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Reeders United Methodist Church, Route 715 and Church Road, with the Rev. Todd Glasmire and the Rev. J. Timothy Fisher officiating. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of the service Saturday, Oct. 16, at the church. Cremation will follow the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests Memorial donations be made to the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company, P.O. Box 215, Reeders, PA 18352.

 

 

 

 

Generous donors hailed great volunteer

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of volunteering at a memorial benefit breakfast in honor of Jim Hallett. I'd never met the man, but from what the letter on the tables said, Jim was a volunteer among volunteers. He was instrumental in the workings of the Jackson Township Fire Department, as well as Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout Pack 85 before he succumbed to cancer in October.

I witnessed a tribute to the man in the form of unselfish volunteerism by the cooks and waiters and unbridled generosity from the patrons.

As I went around peddling my 50/50 tickets, whose proceeds, along with the profits from the breakfast, would help Jim's family, I was overwhelmed by the way his community came together. There were firefighters from as far away as Manheim Township, and fellow truckers as well as locals from the Reeders area, all there to help out the Hallett family.

I couldn't keep up with the requests for my tickets. Quite a few purchasers told me to just put the cash in the bucket, that they didn't want the prize. Many just stopped in to drop their donation off on their way out to church.

I came to believe, even if there weren't any pancakes, eggs, sausage and bacon awaiting the crowds, they would have come anyway. Because one of our own needed a hand, we all came together, spatulas in hand, for the family of a good man. Generosity is not dead, at least not in the Poconos.

MIKE VELARDI 

Bartonsville

 

 

Jackson benefit raises $29,000 for resident
April 13, 2010

A Sunday benefit at the Jackson Township firehouse raised $29,000 for Jim Hallett of Reeders, who is battling a form of leukemia that affects his bone marrow and red blood cells.

Attended by hundreds of residents, the benefit was organized by Rachele Gaun, daughter of Jim and June Hallett, and the Jackson Township Fire Company and its auxiliary. The event included a tricky tray with over 400 prizes, such as baskets, toys, candles and gift certificates, donated from the community.

 

Hallett, 63, a lifelong Jackson resident who served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, is an area businessman and 47-year member of the fire company, of which he is past president and former chief. He also served as township auditor and on the Agricultural Security Board.

 

 

David Horacek, left, and Ken Werkheiser, Jackson Township volunteer firefighters, arrange trees for sale at the department's weekend Christmas tree sale.Melissa Evanko/Pocono Record
 

By

Volunteer fire companies in Monroe County are hoping the holiday spirit can raise some money to buy new equipment and keep firefighters in action during the upcoming year.

Volunteer firefighters in Jackson and Stroud townships are selling locally grown Christmas trees at their fire stations this December. This season will mark the 16th year that Jackson Township firefighters have sold Christmas trees and it is the first time trees have been used to raise money for Stroud firefighters.

"This is a very important fundraiser for us," said Mike Wisniewski, captain of the Jackson Township fire company. "All fundraisers are important but we do this every year and I would say probably 75 to 80 percent of our business is repeat customers. We're not right near the highway so you don't get a lot of the highway traffic. It's really word of mouth to get the word out."

After 15 years of seeing the success Jackson Township had selling Christmas trees at its station in Reeders, Stroud firefighters asked them for a little help getting their sales up and running, and over the weekend they sold a dozen trees.

Stroud Township Assistant Chief Bill Unruh said Jackson firefighters gave them tips on how to set up a fundraiser tree sale each weekend during December and how to make it a success despite a slow opening weekend.

"We've sold 12 trees so far," Unruh said on Sunday. "It's early yet and it's going to be sort of a trial and error. We partnered up with Jackson Township and they've kind of helped set it up here with us. They told us that the first weekend is slower but the busiest will probably be the third weekend."

The Christmas tree sales have been popular for years at the Jackson Township fire company as both locals and visitors stop by to pick up trees that range from as small as five feet tall to around 15 feet tall, Wisniewski said.

"It's all local trees and it's all fresh so that's what gets the people to keep coming back," he said. "We get tremendous support in our area from the community and the township. Most of our customers are from the area but we do get some people from out of state who come to the area to visit during December and they bought from us once and now they stop by on their way back every year to New York or New Jersey. We do very well that way."

Both fire companies are selling Douglas fir and Fraser fir Christmas trees that give several options in size and shape. Trees are priced from $30 for the smallest and up to $130 for the largest trees with handmade wreaths priced at $20, Wisniewski said.

Stroud firefighters will be running their Christmas tree lots each weekend until Christmas on Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Jackson Township firefighters will be selling trees on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Jackson Township fire company is located on Route 715 in Reeders. The Stroud Township fire company is off Route 611 by the Stroud Mall parking deck.

In an effort to improve fire safety, Stroud firefighters are also giving a free smoke detector to everyone who buys a Christmas tree at their station.


 

March 12, 2008

Company donates new saw to firefighters
by Adam McNaughton
Pocono Record Writer

 

 

 

November 30, 1996

Family of four survives area plane crash
by Jessica D. Matthews
Pocono Record Writer

 

 Crash from Page 1

 

Family was "very lucky" to survive, official says
by Jessica D. Matthews
Pocono Record Writer

 

Lucky from Page 1

 

 Pictures of the plane crash can be viewed by clicking on the picture box on the left.

 

We would like to thank the Pocono Record for the use and copy of the articles.

 

October 9, 2012 

 

 

 

Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company firefighter Nick Andriola, left, and Fire Chief Les Wolcott at their station in Reeders on Thursday, November 29, 2012. Andriola and Wolcott were instrumental in pulling a woman from a flaming car wreck on Friday, November 23, 2012.

Keith R. Stevenson/Pocono Record

 

 

Volunteer firefighter Nick Andriola wasn't even aware flames were almost at his back as he worked to free Shelly King, her legs trapped under the crumpled dashboard of the Chevy cargo van.

Fire had spread from a Dodge pickup truck that had struck the van head-on on Route 715 near Neola Road in Jackson Township a few minutes into the new day of Nov. 23.

The flames moved to just outside the open passenger-side doors of the van as Andriola tried to free King, who had a massive head injury.

In the van with Andriola was fellow firefighter Ken Werkheiser, who saw the approaching flames and was using a pocket knife to cut the seatbelt tangled around King's arm.

Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Chief Lester Wolcott arrived shortly after Andriola, reached in and helped him bend the passenger seat backward in an effort to free King.

Wolcott had been monitoring the fire and now saw flames right outside the van's side doors.

"I was facing the hardest decision I've ever had to face in my life," Wolcott said. "It was either let my guys keep trying to free the lady and risk losing them to this fire that was spreading to the point where it was almost inside the van, or pull my guys out and leave her there to die."


30 seconds

Wolcott and Werkheiser had tried unsuccessfully to put out the fire with extinguishers.

And with the crash scene being closer to them than the firehouse, there hadn't been time to get to the firehouse, get a fire truck and return.

"I yelled to Nick and Ken and told them they had 30 seconds to free the passenger and then I was pulling them out, whether they had her or not, because I saw it would be just over 30 seconds before the flames got inside that van," Wolcott said. "That's when Nick finally looked back over his shoulder and saw how close the flames were."

A mighty yank

By that point, Werkheiser had cut away the seatbelt tangled around King's arm, but her legs were still trapped under the dashboard.

"My adrenaline had really kicked in at that point," Andriola said. "I didn't know if the lady could hear me or not, but I leaned in close and told her, 'I'm here to help you. This is gonna hurt.'"

Holding King under her arms, Andriola gave a mighty yank and finally got her free.

"I half-jokingly asked Nick if she still had her leg attached because it looked like he'd really yanked her," Wolcott said.

King, of Saylorsburg, was still physically intact, but in and out of consciousness and incoherent.

By that point, West End Ambulance had arrived, along with Pocono Township and Blue Ridge Hook & Ladder fire companies.


Pickup driver died

The ambulance took King to a helicopter landing site nearby on Reeders Run Road, behind the Jackson Township firehouse, and she was then flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital.

King was still listed in critical condition as of Friday, a week after the crash.

Andriola had been the first firefighter to arrive and the first to approach the burning pickup when he saw driver Brian Campbell unconscious still inside.

Other motorists helped him pull Campbell from the pickup. Efforts to revive Campbell failed, and he was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Meanwhile, motorists had seen injured van driver Carl Lindquist leave the scene on foot prior to Andriola's arrival, but state police later found Lindquist nearby and had him taken to the hospital, according to Wolcott. Lindquist's family said he had left the van to try getting a better cell phone reception in order to call 911.

 

To help people

"We're trained for crashes, car fires and people being trapped, but we've never in my time here had a situation with all three together in one scenario like that," Wolcott said. "I couldn't be prouder of the way our guys handled it.

"It's very tragic that the driver of the pickup died, and we hope the passenger from the van pulls through, but our guys handled that situation in a way that just clicked for everyone involved," he said. "To me, these guys are heroes."

Andriola, 27, moved with his family from New Jersey to the Poconos at age 6 and joined the fire company at age 16.

"A couple days after that incident, I found myself asking why I do this," said Andriola, a meter reader for the UGI utility company. "And thinking about that incident, I told myself that's why I do it: To help people."


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