Wreck leaves car perched at river's edge

October 29, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

MILLVILLE, W.Va. - Two teenage girls from Jefferson County were injured Tuesday when their car ran off Bloomery Road and into a tree along the Shenandoah River, police said.

The car ended up hanging off the edge of the river bank, and rescuers had to use cables to keep it from sliding into the water while firefighters worked to free the 16-year-old driver, whose name was not released. The other girl, Megan Jones, 14, of Millville, was thrown clear, officials said.

The driver, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., was flown to Fairfax Hospital in Virginia, where she was listed in serious condition late Tuesday. Jones was listed in good condition at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va.


"She's lucky," West Virginia State Police Trooper Jose Centeno said of the driver as he saw how close the car came to going into the river.

The passenger's side of the car was about level with the road, but the driver's side was nearly four feet above the river bank. Firefighters had to use a ladder to get to the driver's door.

Independent Fire Co. Assistant Chief Donald Longerbeam said that despite his training for a variety of wreck scenarios, he had never seen one like Tuesday's.

"You have to get creative," Longerbeam said. "There's a book on how to do the basics, but they can't prepare you for everything."

The wreck occurred about 9:56 a.m. The driver had been running late to pick up Jones at her home in Millville, and was seen speeding away, Centeno said.

The car went out of control on Bloomery Road, nearly struck a utility pole, and then slid sideways across both lanes before colliding with the tree about five feet off the pavement, Centeno said.

The first rescuers arrived to find Jones outside of the wreckage and the driver in the back seat. He said it wasn't clear if she had been thrown into the back seat by the impact or had crawled there.

Neither girl was wearing a seat belt, Centeno said.

Firefighters used a cable from a fire truck to keep the car from rolling down the river bank, then attached a second cable from a flat-bed wrecker to help stabilize it, Longerbeam said.

"I was worried about what it was going to do. It was not very stable and it could have come down," Longerbeam said.

Once the car was stabilized, firefighters cut the roof off the car to give them more room to work on the injured girl, who was complaining about numbness to her legs he said.

The rescue effort took about 20 minutes and involved about 20 firefighters from Independent and Friendship fire companies.

"If they'd been wearing their seat belts, their injuries would have been lessened, Centeno said.

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