Big vehicles and a quick reaction by one driver may have helped keep a serious accident from turning tragic, according to officials at the scene of a 2:20 p.m. collision on Route 19 and Perry Road in Le Roy.
The driver of a 1991 Cadillac was apparently following a friend's car too closely, according to State Police Sgt. Kurt Schmitt, and when the friend's car slowed to make a left-hand turn onto Perry Road, the Caddy's driver, Timothy Coates, 17, of Churchville, had to take evasive action.
Coates, who was the most seriously injured in the accident, tried to brake and clipped the left rear of his friend's car before swerving into the northbound lane of Route 19.
Heading southbound in a white Dodge Ram pickup truck was Matt Hendershott, 28, of East Bethany.
"The Caddy just came into my lane and that's about all I had time to see," said Hendershott, a volunteer firefighter with the Bethany department. "Apparently I took evasive action because I left skid marks on the shoulder."
Hendershott was not injured.
"If we have a call tonight, I'm responding," Hendershott said.
Schmitt confirmed that the investigation showed that Hendershott reacted quickly and avoided a head-on collision with the Cadillac.
"It could have been very serious," Schmitt said. "We were discussing earlier that they came within a foot of hitting head on. Because somebody was paying attention to their driving and reacted quickly, we avoided a more serious situation."
Asked by a reporter if the Cadillac's size was a factor, Schmitt that in his personal opinion, it was.
"It's one of those old battle wagons," Schmitt said. "The smaller cars are more economical but in cases like this, that's not always better."
Coates was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital by Mercy Flight with what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries.
"We have positive thoughts about his condition," Schmitt said.
He will likely be cited for following too closely.
Le Roy Fire Chief Mike Sheflin thanked the volunteers from Le Roy and Pavilion for their quick response to the scene.
He said it was also helpful that the driver of the car Coates was following was an off-duty EMT.
The driver, Matthew Mandoler, 21, of Rochester, was able to provide emergency responders with a quick assessment of the scene and victims.
"The more information we can get when we arrive on the scene, the more quickly we can formulate a plan," Sheflin said.
Once on scene, it took the volunteers only 12 minutes to extricate Coates.
A passenger in Mandoler's car, Mike Schockow, said Mandoler took charge of the scene immediately after the crash and until emergency responders arrived. He did his best to keep everybody calm and organize help for the victims.
"I'd never seen anything like this before," Schockow said. "I was kind of having a panic attack. I'd never been in an accident before and it was scary."
Neither Schockow nor Mandoler were injured.
A passenger in the Cadillac suffered a minor arm injury.
Besides Le Roy fire, Pavilion fire, State Police and Mercy Flight, responding to the scene were Le Roy Ambulance and Mercy EMS.