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Democrat Photo by Paul Hemmer

THE DRIVER OF this crushed vehicle, Joanne Hernandez of Liberty, was lucky to be alive after she crashed into a car and a tree on Route 52 in Jeffersonville Sunday. At the time this photograph was taken, emergency workers were still trying to free Hernandez from her car.

Car Becomes Airborne,
Hits Tree, Injures Driver

By Paul Hemmer
JEFFERSONVILLE — February 27, 2001 – A one car crash in Kohlertown just west of the Village of Jeffersonville in the Town of Delaware kept Route 52 closed for over an hour as firefighters and EMS personnel worked to free the driver from the mangled wreckage this past Sunday afternoon.
Joanne Hernandez of Liberty was driving along Route 52 in Kohlertown and had just passed Lare Road going east towards Jeffersonville when her car left the road and struck another unoccupied car belonging to Dan Hart, which was parked in his driveway in front of his residence in Kohlertown.
According to Robert Simon, Chief of Protection Hose Company #1 of Jeffersonville, after striking Hart’s vehicle, Hernandez’s car became airborne, flipping on its side and crashing into a tree while still approximately eight feet off the ground.
The car struck the tree windshield-first, crushing the roof down to the front doors of the vehicle – just inches in front of Hernandez – before the automobile came to rest on its wheels, trapping her inside the wreckage.
The Jeffersonville Fire Department and Jeffersonville Volunteer First Aid Corps were dispatched to the scene at 4:23 p.m. Arriving within minutes, emergency personnel worked feverishly to free Hernandez, who was conscious and talking as EMS workers monitored her vitals and prepped her for removal from the vehicle.
Using a Hurst hydraulic cutting tool and saws to cut away the car’s roof, firefighters effectively removed most of the obstacles hindering Hernandez’s removal from the wreckage. The Hurst "Jaws of Life" was then pressed into service to help lift the dash from Hernandez’s legs, freeing her from the crumpled wreck.
A combined effort between the approximately 35 firefighters and EMS personnel that were on the scene quickly had Hernandez out of the driver’s seat, onto a backboard and into Jeffersonville’s waiting ambulance.
Jeff’s volunteers were joined at the scene by paramedics from the Town of Liberty Volunteer Ambulance Corps, who also assisted with medical care while Hernandez was transported to Community General Hospital in Harris.
Chief Simon lauded the efforts of the volunteers during the rescue.
"The extrication went extremely well," said Simon. "It took a total of 25 minutes to complete. The guys deserve a lot of credit."
Simon also added that Hernandez was quite composed during the rescue, despite the seriousness of the situation.
"She seemed to be in good spirits during the entire thing," said Simon.
Additional assistance was requested from the Kenoza Lake Fire Department to help reroute traffic, and the Youngsville Fire Department was on stand-by in Jeffersonville’s quarters during the extrication. Several units from the New York State Police were also on the scene to investigate the crash.
It was unclear what circumstances led to Hernandez’s accident. An unconfirmed report at the scene described her injuries to be facial lacerations and a possible fractured arm. The full extent of her injuries was not disclosed, but none were believed to be life-threatening.
Firefighters were on the scene for approximately one hour and 20 minutes, and Route 52 was reopened to traffic shortly thereafter.

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