ELYRIA — A man and his infant daughter were injured after the man struck a guardrail, sending his car over an embankment on Gulf Road.
Shortly before 9 p.m., emergency crews responded to a car over the guardrail on Gulf Road near Winthrop Drive. The car was resting on its side against trees, keeping it from falling farther down the hill.
The Elyria Fire Department responded, taking care to extricate the child and her father after securing the car from sliding down into the ravine, Assistant Chief Joe Pronesti said.
“What made the extrication a bit more challenging was because of the trees and we had to stabilize the vehicle so it wouldn’t fall farther down — it’s a hell of a drop down into the ravine there,” he said. “We
couldn’t really do a lot until we stabilized the car, as soon as we did that I put a firefighter-medic in the car and we got the infant out and took us a little longer to get the male out, but the guys did a great job.”
It took crews roughly 17 minutes to get the man out, he said, and both were flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. The man had serious injuries to his lower extremities, with the infant suffering serious head injuries.
While first responders secured the vehicle before sending crews in to extricate the man, the first engine on scene went down to the car before it was chained or secured to see what they could do to help the child and her father.
“First on-scene crew doesn’t carry that kind of extrication equipment, stabilizing equipment,” Pronesti said. “… They went down that ravine no questions asked.”
Mia Lupinacci, of Lorain, and Sha’Quanna Young, of Elyria, were headed north when they saw the man go off the road.
“I was coming this way and I see this car flying and my first thought is why are they driving so fast, knowing they’re getting ready to do all those curves,” Young said. “And then I was like, they’re not turning, they’re not turning. And I was like, well, maybe there’s a hidden driveway I don’t know about — until it hit the guardrail. And then it kind of went airborne and twisted a little bit, and I slammed on my brakes and I put on my emergencies and I noticed she (Lupinacci) was behind me.”
Lupinacci was driving home from Lorain County Community College and saw the car go airborne before stopping — phone in hand — to help. She grabbed a flashlight from her car, searching for the wreck while Young called 911.
“I saw it and I thought it was a dream, I was like, ‘What has happened?’ and then I saw (Young) get out of the car too and I had my phone ready and she already had (called).”
The man was screaming for help, both women said. Unsure of how far the car was down the embankment, and with little more than a flashlight to light the area until crews arrived, Young and Lupinacci tried to comfort the man while waiting for help.
“If we weren’t out here, they wouldn’t have been found,” Young said. “Because they (neighbors) heard the crash but if we weren’t out there, they would have probably looked out and walked back in. And it’s dark — it’s lit up now, but it’s completely dark. If she didn’t have her flashlight, we wouldn’t have even found the car.”
She added, “My first thought was, it went over the hill … he hit a guardrail and he hit a tree and there’s another tree holding him there. They said if he was like another 5 feet, he would’ve gone over (the ledge).”
The cause of the accident is under investigation by the Elyria Police Department.