By Dan Hust
COCHECTON Fosterdale Motor Lodge owner Joe Tinari knows he’s incredibly lucky to be alive.
On Wednesday, he survived a plunge off Route 97, tumbling 75-100 feet down an embankment, totalling his car.
And he emerged unscathed.
“I didn’t even have a bump or a scratch on me,” Tinari related yesterday the amazement still clear in his voice.
Tinari said he was en route to Fosterdale from Honesdale, PA, Wednesday afternoon, driving a 2003 Ford Taurus intended for his used car and rental shop.
He was headed northbound on Route 97 in Cochecton when he lost control at one of the scenic byway’s tightest curves.
“It must have been black ice,” he recalled. “The car just skidded.”
He shot across an intersection with County Route 114W and through the guardrail. He figured that would stop him, but instead, the vehicle went airborne, flipping as it hit trees, and wedging itself about halfway down a steep embankment, just above the railroad tracks.
The crumpled roof had missed his head by a mere inch.
“It was a real nice, clean car,” Tinari said until Wednesday. “Thank goodness my seatbelt was still on.”
The car was actually still running and in Drive, though all the windows and Tinari’s belongings were blown out.
He shut off the engine, checked himself for injury, and pulled out his new Droid cellphone, amazed to discover he had cell service.
A call to 911 allowed the Lake Huntington-Cochecton Fire Department to find him in less than 10 minutes.
“If I was injured [and unable to call], I might still be there today,” he related.
Joined by Callicoon FD and the State Police, the firefighters threw ropes down to Tinari and hauled him up, where he was transported by Tusten EMS to Catskill Regional Medical Center’s Callicoon campus and given a clean bill of health.
He’s grateful for all the help, the outpouring of love from family and friends, and most importantly, the sparing of his life.
“It just wasn’t my time,” he said.