7 saved from stranded van

December 29, 1995 (~estimated)

7 saved from stranded van

By John McGourty

Staff Writer

PRINCETON TOWNSHIP —Seven people were rescued from a school minivan stuck in the icy waters of the fast-rising Stony Brook yesterday afternoon.

Rubber-suited rescuers from the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad braved the fast-flowing waters in a rubber raft to get to a van containing three children and four adults caught on Quaker Road.

The squad’s chief, Eric Kirby, said the van and a school bus became trapped about 300 yards east of the Mercer Street intersection. Another bus in the group made it through safely, he said.

“We like to be thought of as a group rather than as individuals,” he said. Kirby said he was not one of the people in the boat. He would not identify those rescued either, citing what he called “patient confidentiality” rules.

Kirby said he did not know who owns the vehicles or which school had contracted them. He said the vehicles were being left in deep water until the flood recedes.

The rescue squad’s utility vehicle was abandoned when it stalled about 100 yards from the Mercer Street intersection. A tow truck driver, hired to retrieve the vehicle, turned back because the water was too deep.

Gates were pulled across Quaker Road, closing it to traffic, and barricades were placed on Mercer Street blocking the approach to Stony Brook.

Juan Roche, 31, of Lawrence, a cook at George’s Roasters and Ribs in Princeton Borough, had to abandon his car on Quaker Road and wade through waist-deep water to safety, aided by the West Windsor First Aid Squad, which helped several stranded motorists in the Port Mercer area.

Residents said the flooding was as extensive as they have ever seen. Jim Cramer and his son.

Jim Cramer Jr., live in the last house in Lawrence on Princeton Pike south of the brook. The concrete trestles of the former Trenton-Princeton trolley line cross his property through the brook’s flood plain, and he uses them to record the high-water mark of each flood.

Cramer said the Stony Brook hasn’t risen this high since he moved in 18 years ago, including the powerful flood that moved huge blocks of ice two years ago. He said the Stony Brook was at least 5 to 6 feet above normal.

Jim Cramer Jr. pointed to accumulated snow and ice, trapped by trees and brush, and partially damming the brook yesterday, east of the pike.

“Some nights, it sounds like a bulldozer moving through there when the ice just rips out trees,” his father said.

Jim Cramer Jr. said the storm killed a trip to the store to buy a Nintendo game.

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