The Saratoga Sun -

Mettle amid the wreck

First responders, health care workers quickly respond to Monday morning crash


Dana Davis

A black Chevy sits atop the east fuel island on Monday morning following a high speed collision with the island and the awning outside Kum & Go in Saratoga.

Two booms, dust and a flash.

That is how Rick Hughes described the accident that shook Saratoga on Monday morning. Hughes was standing just inside the door of his insurance agency when a car passed only a couple yards from him, hit a telephone pole, then crashed into the fuel island at neighboring Kum & Go.

Hughes said, "The car came so fast that when I looked up it had already hit the pole and the transformer exploded, then there was nothing but dust. You couldn't see five feet out the building.

When it settled, one of them tried to climb out the top of the car, gas was coming out every where and the power line was dangling, so you didn't dare run across".

On the other side of the street, Greg Bush had just finished mowing his lawn when an extended chain of loud noises grabbed his attention. Bush said that he heard a large explosion, then what sounded like a gun shot, then a crash. Bush's first thought went to his mother, who had left only moments before to the Presbyterian Church. When he went to investigate he beheld a sight of pandemonium.

Bush said, "I went over, the first thing I saw was the canopy collapsed and I heard some woman screaming. She was standing at the pump next to what looked like a trailer, being pulled by a truck. She is sitting there screaming and I saw someone come out of the store yelling 'get away from the fire, get away from the fire,' the police weren't even here at that point. It was just people running around and the people that were shopping there, were running in all directions to get away."

Bush talked to another witness to the scene who informed him that an elderly lady was pulled away from the accident. Frightened this could have been his mother, Bush ran all the way to the church where he was relieved to find his mother's car safe and sound.

Shelby McGuire was directly across the street, working at her desk at Town & Country Realty. From where she was sitting she said, "it literally looked like a car flying through the air." She then said that they saw the driver climb out of the car, clearly in shock, stumble and collapse. Other people at the scene helped the driver cross the street where he collapsed again. McGuire said that they had tried to call 911 but kept getting busy signals from so many people calling the accident into the police.

According to McGuire, "Tammy Lasco, she works at Kum & Go, she was like mediating the situation, shut the pumps off, got people moved out of the way, they were lucky she was working. Our knees were shaking, so I can't imagine how Tammy felt."

Official police reports have not yet been received but it appears, a vehicle with California licenses plates was speeding excessively through the town of Saratoga despite the clearly posted 30 m.p.h. speed limit. The vehicle swerved into a pole between the Kum & Go and Rick Hughes' insurance. The transformer exploded and the middle part of the pole was sent flying into the canopy above the Kum & Go's fuel islands. The canopy was badly damaged and appeared to dangle dangerously above the wreckage. The car landed in the center of the island, obliterating the middle fuel pump as well as smashing the vehicles to both sides of it. There was a young man fueling a silver truck and an elderly couple had been standing near the pumps on the opposite side closest to the building.

The scene is difficult to describe as many things were happening all at once.

There was a massive response to this unprecedented accident as all available emergency responders were present including firefighters, police and the staff from the Saratoga Care Center were also there to help. The office personnel of Rick Hughes insurance brought out blankets and pillows to help keep the injured comfortable and warm while they were in shock. They said it was a good thing they are mothers because moms are always prepared for just about anything.

There were three groupings of responders attending to the driver and victims.

The young man who was fueling his truck at the time of the impact had ran a few yards and collapsed. Responders attended to him for over an hour before he was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Unofficial reports have indicated that he is doing well and would not have to remain in the hospital very long.

The elderly couple were triaged onsite and were also transported by ambulance.

Joshua Wood

The Saratoga Volunteer Fire Department sprays down the damaged Chevy before it is removed by McDowell Towing.

Flight for life was called in for the driver. Debris was flung in all directions into the crowd of onlookers as the helicopter descended into the intersection of Highway 130 and Hickory Street. A team of firefighters, nurses and pilots assisted putting the driver aboard the helicopter.

So many people showed up to help, to lend a hand in a time of panic and show the mettle the small town of Saratoga is made of, it is hard to list them all. This town is lucky to have so many heroes living right here.

The response of all involved was swift, including the clean up. By late afternoon the entire spectacle was entirely cleared. There were no remainders of the earlier chaos, just an empty space and the memory of what was.

The Saratoga Sun will have more information as it becomes available.


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