MILLBURN, NJ - An afternoon car accident showcased the quick actions of bystanders in downtown Millburn yesterday afternoon.
The accident occurred at approximately 2:45 p.m. at the intersection of Millburn Avenue and Lackawanna Place. A white Toyota Avalon jumped the curb on Lackawanna driving towards Millburn Ave. and crashed headfirst into a pole. The impact was severe enough to wrap the front end of the car around the pole and shutting off power to the stoplight.
Upon hearing and witnessing the impact, bystanders in downtown Millburn rushed to the scene to help.
Millburn Township resident Jonathan Sym was one of the bystanders. He was in his car with his wife Agnes on Millburn Ave. at a stoplight waiting to turn onto Lackawanna Pl. when the accident occurred. Speaking with TAPinto Millburn/Short Hills, Sym described seeing a vehicle hitting a pole and making a loud, crashing sound and witnessing the moment of impact. An engine fire erupted immediately after.
While Sym's wife Agnes dialed for emergency responders (911), he left his vehicle and ran towards the accident. Seeing the front of the vehicle on fire and smelling smoke, Sym's concern was for the people in the car. As he was closest to the passenger side, he worked to free the passenger from her seatbelt and passed her to an employee at a nearby spray tanning salon who assisted him.
Sym then got the phone from his wife and continued the call with 911, following instructions from the dispatcher to ensure the victims of the accident were in no immediate danger as first responders had not yet arrived. The unidentified employee took the elderly passenger into his store until fire and medical personnel arrived.
"The situation developed very quickly and I just reacted," Said Sym. "It was fortunate that several folks came to the scene of the accident to help the folks in the car. I didn't know if the engine fire was going to spread so I just wanted them out of there. The front and side airbags were deployed, making it a little difficult to get her out. With the help of a fellow bystander from the tanning salon, we were able to free her from the car."
It is unknown how the driver of the vehicle exited the car, whether on his own or with the assistance of others.
Within moments of the accident occurring, emergency responders from the Millburn Fire and Police Departments, along with members of the Millburn/Short Hills First Aid Squad were on scene.
The small fire on the engine block ceased on its own as first responders worked to cordon off the area and check on the driver and passenger of the vehicle. Neither appeared to be seriously injured, although the driver was complaining of pain in his wrist and the passenger mentioned some chest pains. Both were taken from the scene for further medical observation.