A 69-year-old driver who was in diabetic shock crashed his vehicle into a gas station off of the Hutchinson River Parkway in White Plains in June 2014. The elderly man, who was incoherent at the time of the accident, was pulled from his burning car by an off-duty state trooper before it was engulfed in flames. The 69-year-old driver only suffered from minor injuries as a result of the accident, and he was taken to Westchester Medical Center. The off-duty police officer suffered from minor injuries when he was struck by a falling gas pump. The entire incident was captured by a video surveillance camera at the gas station.
John Vescio, the off-duty state trooper who saved the elderly man, stopped at the gas station to fill his unmarked police car at 11:00 a.m. As Vescio was fueling his vehicle, he noticed a Toyota pull into the service station at a high rate of speed. The Toyota then slammed into another vehicle and gas pump, causing a fire. Acting upon his police training, Vescio immediately pulled the elderly man from the car with the help of a bystander. The car then erupted into flames seconds later. Vescio instructed other customers at the gas station to back away from the flames because his unmarked car contained live ammunition. Although several people reported hearing several loud pops, officials from the White Plains Fire Department stated that none of the ammunition was every discharged. Southbound lanes of the Hutchinson Parkway were shut down for over an hour as a result of the accident and fire.
Discussing the incident, Vescio remarked, “It happened so quick. It was hard to think. I just pretty much reacted.” State Police Captain Dominick Chiumento stated that Vescio “remained focused and committed to saving the life of the operator of the Toyota. If not for his swift response, the situation could have turned out much worse.”
According to the National Institute of Health, elderly drivers can face many challenges that can affect their ability to drive safely. For instance, elderly drivers with diabetes can experience spikes in blood sugar levels while driving. These dangerous blood sugar changes can cause a driver to feel sleepy, drowsy or confused. In some cases, diabetic shock can result in seizures or even loss of consciousness while driving.
Elderly people suffering from arthritis can also face difficulties while driving. Stiff and inflamed joints can make it difficult for elderly drivers to hold the steering wheel properly. In addition, drivers with arthritis may have trouble turning their necks to view other cars or pedestrians. As a result, aging drivers should consult with their physicians to determine how their medical conditions may affect their ability to drive safely.
Website Resource: Hutch station fire: Hero trooper pulled man from flames, Richard Liebson, June 5, 2014