Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Lorain Police received a call early Wednesday morning of White Econoline Van that had just been stolen from a driveway on Riverview Lane. The Dispatcher gave out the call and description of the van and almost immediately an Officer, who was on patrol near the Firment car dealership on Grove, spotted the vehicle traveling southbound.

Once the Officer got in behind the van the driver, Blake Cavanaugh, took off refusing to stop. The van headed into the Elyria area and entered I-90 eastbound. While traveling on I-90 Cavanaugh, while in the left lane, swerved to the right crossing a lane and going off the road just before the Black River Bridge. The van got air born taking out trees then plummeting approximately 75 to 100 feet to the river below landing on the passenger side.

Police said that for 5 to 7 minutes they did not see anyone come out of the van, then all of a sudden they saw Cavanaugh’s head pop out. Cavanaugh was able to make his way out and sat on the van waiting to be rescued.

Captain Charlie Norris of the Elyria Fire Department said that when they arrived they found Cavanaugh sitting on the van communicating to Officers on the shore. “We saw that he was situated safely on the van and the van was stable, not moving down river, so we decided to put the boat in the water instead of doing an immediate rescue. We sent two of our guys over there in the boat and they were able to safely return him to shore where LifeCare Paramedics took over and transported him to Elyria.”

Captain Norris said that the two Firefighters that went into the water are on the Department’s Dive Team and practice at least once a month. “These guys keep up to date on Water Rescue technology and continually practice rescues. If you are in the water you want these guys coming to get you. This rescue didn’t seem to be that big of a deal, the rescue seemed to go easily but even on a more serious rescue, these guys would be the ones you want to come get ya.”

Lieutenant Rick Thraser of the Elyria Fire Department Dive Team said that when they made it to Cavanaugh he was complaining of being cold and of pains in his left leg. “We were able to get a PFD (personal floatation device) on him right away then we got him into the boat. It took a little convincing to get him into the boat but we were able to explain to him that he needed to get up on shore as quickly as possible for treatment.” Lieutenant Thrasher said that they were worried about hypothermia setting in. “Almost immediately when you hit these temperatures hypothermia can set in, the colder the water the quicker it will set in and the dirtier the water the worse the situation because you open yourself up to possible infections.”

Lieutenant Thrasher said that had Cavanaugh been under another couple of minutes he could have gone unresponsive and then there would have been a much different outcome.

Herb de la Porte, Vice President of LifeCare Ambulance, said that Cavanaugh was treated at the scene for possible fractures and hypothermia. “After the victim was transported to Elyria we had another Ambulance stand by on scene while the Firefighters and Tow Truck Operators recovered the vehicle, just in case there were any problems.”

LifeCare Paramedics transported Cavanaugh, who has a prosthetic right leg, to Elyria Memorial Hospital with a fractured left leg. He was later flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

To see more photos from the scene: CLICK HERE


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