1 January 1979
Fire Engine and Car Collide, Totalling Latter; Alarm Sounded at Princeton Day School False
The drivers of a Princeton fire truck and a small foreign car which collided last week at the intersection of Elm and Rosedale roads have both been issued summonses by the investigating officer, Ptl Bernard Lenhardt, the Borough’s traffic safety officer.
Neither the driver of the car, which was a total loss, nor any of the three firemen in the truck were seriously injured. Ironically, the fire engine was responding to a false alarm at Princeton Day School. Fluctuations in electricity had set off the alarm, Ptl. Lenhardt said, while maintenance personnel were working on a generator.
No sooner had the Township desk officer called at 10:06 last Wednesday morning, reporting a concellation of the alarm, then he received a call from Clifton W. Groover, 47, the driver of the fire truck that he had been involved in an accident.
According to Ptl. Lenhardt, the fire engine from Engine Co. No. 3 on Chambers Street, was going north on Elm. Mr. Groover and two firemen on board. Anthony M. Cirullo Jr. of Humbert Street, and John Gloss, 20 Nassau Street, said that the truck’s siren and air horns were sounding prior to the accident and its red light flashing.
Green Light Claimed. The driver of the car, Rebecca Delautre, 25, 20 Dickinson Street, was heading into Princeton from Rosedale. “I came up to the intersection and was going straight through. I did not see or hear the fire engine until it was right in front of me. I had the green light,” she said.
Mr. Groover, an employee of the Princeton Sewer Commission, told Ptl. Lenhardt that he was traveling about 30 miles an hour and did not see the car until it hit the left front of the truck.
“When we hit, the emergency impact braking system took over and locked the rear wheels. I don’t know what color the light was; I was looking for traffic and did not see the car coming until she hit the truck.”
From the initial point of impact in the middle of the intersection, the fire truck continued on another 159 feet before coming to rest against a pole. Mrs. Delautre’s 1977 Datsun traveled another 106 feet from impact. There were no skid marks from either vehicle prior to impact, Pit. Lenhardt reported.
He charged Mrs. Delautre with failure yield to an emergency vehicle; Mr. Groover with failure to maintain control of an emergency vehicle.
Narrow Escape. Mrs. Delautre refused medical aid for abrasions of the lower right leg. When her car hit the fire truck, the engine’s front tire went over her car rather than drawing it up into the wheel well. Otherwise, her small car might have been crushed.
Mr. Groover of 2263 Princeton Pike, sustained bruises of the left arm and elbow and muscular strain. Mr. Gloss, who was riding along side Mr. Groover and operating the siren, complained of muscular strain to his right arm. Mr. Cirullo, facing to the rear in the left jump seat, suffered contusions of the left cheek and muscular strain of the back.
After the collision, the fire truck swerved to the right and flattened 110 feet of hedgerow on the property of Michael S. Mathews, 193 Elm Road. It then bent and ripped a metal Borough bike path sign, damaged a guide wire to a utility pole and snapped telephone wires from another.
The 1973 Mack Fire Truck sustained front end damage and damage to its internal pump and connections, Ptl. Lenhardt said. It was towed to a Mack dealer in Philadelphia for repair. Administrator Mark Gordon reported Tuesday that the Borough is still waiting to hear from adjustors what the repair bill will be.
TIME FOR ACCOUNTING: Borough Traffic Safety Officer Bernard Lenhardt takes notes while investigating a collision between a fire engine and a small car at Elm and Rosedale.