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PEP Oct 2014
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Public Employee Press

Reservoir heroes
Four Local 376 Watershed Maintainers save driver from burning car

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS


CRASH and BURNED: A Lincoln Town Car burns after crashing near the Ashokan Reservior Aug. 19. Fast-acting Local 376 members saved the driver.


LOCAL 376 WATERSHED MAINTAINERS were heroes Aug. 19, as they extinguished the blaze and saved a driver's life. From left: Mark Davis, Sean Perry, Mark Naccoratto and Justin Kappel with President Gene DeMartino.

Four fast-thinking Local 376 Watershed Maintainers sprang into action as first responders and saved the life of a young driver whose crashed car burst into flames Aug. 19 near the Ashokan Reservoir in upstate New York.That morning WMs Mark Naccoratto and Sean Perry were inspecting dykes and dams for the Dept. of Environmental Protection when they saw black smoke rising from city property and sped to the scene."I climbed down the wooded embankment and at the bottom was a wrecked Lincoln Town Car. The fire was spreading fast. I checked and saw no one was in the car and yelled to Sean to call 911," said Naccoratto.

Meanwhile some three miles away, WM Mark Davis, an 18-year DEP veteran, and his coworker Justin Kappel saw the smoke and raced to the site, calling the local fire department on the way.

"We quickly started digging a trench to stop the fire and used an extinguisher to fight the blaze," said Davis, a former volunteer firefighter in the nearby town of Olive, NY. A volunteer firefighter from the town of West Hurley and local police arrived shortly.

Several feet away the driver, who had crawled out of the car, lay badly hurt and barely conscious, said Naccoratto. "I kept talking to him and told him, 'Hang on, help is on the way.'"

"The road curved but he went straight," said Davis. The airborne speeding car landed about 300 feet into the woods. Volunteer first responders lifted the injured driver into a steel basket to evacuate him by helicopter from the blackened wreckage. He survived miraculously with no broken bones.

"Usually we are on the mowing crew at the aqueduct," Davis said, "but that morning we were held back to work on the dam, cleaning drains in preparation for hurricane season."

"This was the third car accident I've seen in my 16 years on the job, and it is by far the worst," Naccoratto said. "It was a matter of minutes. Lucky for him we were there."



 
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