Harrowing rescue for crash victim and First Responders - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Harrowing rescue for crash victim and First Responders

Courtesy: Diana Miller Courtesy: Diana Miller
Courtesy: Diana Miller Courtesy: Diana Miller

UPDATE (WKOW) -- Fire officials say inches made the difference between life and death in a crash Wednesday evening. A car ran off the road at the intersection of Oakridge Ave. and Maple Ave., on Madison's east side just before 8:30 p.m. It hit bushes and a chain link fence, and authorities say a fence pole impaled a passenger in the speeding car.

"I heard a very loud noise that almost shook the house," neighbor Diana Miller tells 27 News. She ran outside to see what happened and says damage on the front-end of the car was apparent.

Fire officials say when they got there, the driver was walking around. They turned their attention to the 20-year-old passenger who was conscious and talking.

"They were surprised to see a pipe sticking through the windshield and into the chest area of the patient," Madison Fire Dept. Division Chief of EMS Rich Kinkade tells 27 News. He says the pole was about 2'' in diameter and about 6' long.

Police say the man is in stable condition. Kinkade says the pole impaled the man just below his left arm pit, and went out his back, missing vital organs.

EMS crews had to use a variety of tools to cut the pole down, provide access to the car, and gently pull the patient out. It was 8 degrees outside while they worked. Kinkade says the extraction took about 25 minutes.

"If that poll would have come in a different angle or something like that, or if there had been another patient in the back seat," he says the outcome may have been different.

Police say speed and road conditions were a factor in the crash. Neighbors say while they've never seen an accident like this, people often use these streets as a short cut to bigger roads.

"We are now going to be getting speed bumps, more speed bumps on Oakridge. And in fact, I think one is going to be located around where the accident occurred," Miller says.

Police arrested the driver, 21-year-old Stephen Betz of Madison, for reckless driving causing great bodily harm.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Crews were called to a one-vehicle crash at the intersection of Oakridge and Maple shortly before 8:30 Wednesday night.

When police, fire and medics arrived on scene, they found a car had left the residential street, ran over several small bushes, a chain link fence, and crashed into a utility pole. 

The driver of the vehicle, 21-year-old Stephen Betz, was walking around at the scene, but when the car plowed through the fence, the upper rail of the fence penetrated the windshield and into the male passenger in the front seat.  The 20-year-old passenger had a 7' pipe, 2" in diameter, enter him just below his left arm pit and exited through his back and into the seat of the vehicle.

The incident was a challenging extrication for responders, due to the nature and the temperature outside.

The patient was conscious and answering questions.  Crews needed to cut the side of the car away to allow for better access.  The front half of the pipe was trimmed with a hydraulic cutting tool to within 4" of his chest and the back section was trimmed close to the seat back.  The patient was re-positioned to allow the pipe to be removed from the seat back and then he was removed from the car.  The process took nearly a half an hour.

He was taken to UW Trauma Center, with a section of pipe still in his body.  The patient was quickly sent to an operating room for removal of the pipe.

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