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A boom on a rotator truck from Senica’s Interstate Towing lifts a pickup out of the Little Vermilion River and up and over the railing to a flatbed truck on Interstate 39 between Mendota and Troy Grove on Monday.
MENDOTA — Rescuers found two accident victims conscious and breathing Monday evening after the pickup they were in flipped over the top rail of an Interstate 39 bridge, crashed at least 15 feet down onto a grassy bank and came to rest upside down in a shallow river. An accident report was pending, but state police did confirm an injury to 81-year-old James Lenz of Varna. The driver was identified as Ethan Streitmatter, 15, of LaRose. Lenz remains listed this morning in fair condition at St. Francis Medical Center, Peoria, a hospital spokeswoman said. State police, Mendota and Troy Grove firefighters and emergency medical technicians were called after 6 p.m. about a southbound pickup that had gone into the Little Vermilion River between Troy Grove and Mendota. The victims were trapped but had their heads above water while they waited for rescue workers to arrive. Troy Grove and Mendota firefighters donned Stearns waterproof suits and waded into the icy river. Troy Grove firefighter Jason Mahaffey said the water at its deepest was mid-thigh. He said it took 10-15 minutes to free the victims. Trooper Brian Lewis said the occupants were a grandfather and a grandson. “The younger gentleman was in the car, holding the older gentleman’s head above water,” said Dean Ege, Mendota assistant fire chief. First responders including Troy Grove’s Mahaffey and Michael Mathieu helped Streitmatter get out of the car and then took over for the teen, holding Lenz’s head above the water. Ege said the way the car was positioned, Lenz was stuck in deeper water than Streitmatter. In addition, he said both had been working outdoors earlier in the day, and their clothes had become waterlogged and heavy. After firefighters pried open a door, they and emergency medical technicians put the man on a backboard and onto a “stokes” stretcher and pulled him up the embankment to an ambulance. Streitmatter was able to walk to the ambulance, with some assistance, up an icy concrete embankment. Scrapes on the ice-covered bridge railing helped Lewis determine how the vehicle went over. He said it left the left side of the southbound lane, hugged and then got on top of the guardrail at the bridge approach and continued sliding along the guardrail and then the concrete railing until going off the bridge. Police briefly closed that portion of I-39 as rescue vehicles were being moved into place. Senica’s Interstate Towing used its “rotator” (crane) truck to lift the wrecked vehicle — still upside down — out of the water, over the concrete bridge rail and onto a flatbed truck.
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by:
There are many human angels, and this article speaks of two kinds: those who jump in to assist, and those who report it!
After that, the healing angels are called in. They walk among us every day.
Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013
Article comment by:
I'm amazed at how quickly a breaking story out in the country can be written, photographed and delivered. Kudos to Flanery and Sterrett for working extra late in frigid conditions to bring us the news! Let's also say a prayer for the grandfather and grandson for a quick recovery. What a ride and fall they experienced!
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