PLATTSBURGH — Four passengers and a staff member from the Advocacy and Resource Center sustained minor injuries in an accident Friday afternoon that left their van badly damaged.
“Fortunately, everyone is okay. We thank God for that,” said ARC Executive Director Theresa Garrow later in the day.
Plattsburgh City Police Officer Shaun Luck said the driver of the van, whose name wasn't yet available, was making a right turn from Miller Street onto Cornelia Street at about 12:30 p.m. when she tried to avoid striking a hydraulic power lift parked near the intersection that workers were using to renovate an apartment building there.
The driver told police she thought the van cleared the lift but that it appeared the corner of its arm struck the upper passenger side of the van, smashing the large windows and splitting the vehicle from top to bottom behind the right rear tire, exposing the vehicle's own lift inside.
Luck said the machine was not in operation at the time of the accident and that upon initial investigation, it appeared to be somewhat in the roadway.
The van driver drove the vehicle the short distance to the Margaret Street intersection, turned the corner and pulled into a parking lot owned by Adirondack Chiropractic, where emergency vehicles, including three ambulances, and police converged quickly after Clinton County Dispatch reported an MCI (Multiple Casualty Incident).
EMTs checked out all who'd been on the van, whether they appeared injured or not, while ARC staff reassured the clients; one woman enfolded a young man in a big hug.
ARC provides services to people who are developmentally disabled, along with their families.
As of Friday afternoon, the five people taken to CVPH Medical Center were being treated for minor cuts while hospital staff cleaned the wounds of any glass debris, Garrow said.
GLASS, DEBRIS IN ROAD
Ed Darrah, who lives in the apartment building that is under renovation, was home for lunch when, about 12:15 p.m., he looked out the window to see how the work was progressing.
"A worker was in a hydraulic lift, power washing the side of the building right outside my 3rd floor, living room window," he wrote in an email to the Press-Republican.
About five minutes later, he was startled by an “extremely loud crash,” he said.
Darrah thought maybe the lift had collapsed, but said he saw nothing out of the ordinary when he looked out the window again.
"... the worker was still in (the) progress of power washing outside my window," he wrote.
“However, when I looked down into the road, there was a large amount of glass, plastic debris and a large blue handicapped sign in the road,” he wrote.
When he went downstairs to investigate, Darrah said witnesses told him they saw the ARC van hit the lift.
“We think the arm caught the top of the vehicle, and it caused the windows to collapse,” Garrow said.
She was very thankful for how staff on the van handled the crisis, as well as for others who hurried there when they heard about the accident.
“My staff is wonderful. They immediately went to the scene to help out,” Garrow said. “We love what we do, and we have love for the people we serve.”
Luck said the cause of the accident was still under investigation and did not know if any tickets would be issued.
“We put this secondary, due to the nature of the accident,” he added.
He said their main focus had been the well-being of those who were on the bus and injured in the crash.
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