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Driver slams pump at C’ville store

Leaves man 'critical'

Kevin Conlon/contributing photographer

Cortlandville firefighters inspect a Jeep that crashed late Wednesday night at the Kwik Fill convenience store at Route 13 and Starr Road. The driver was in critical condition and the circumstances of the accident are still being investigated by the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department.

CORTLANDVILLE — The driver of a maroon Jeep waited for two vehicles to pass Wednesday night before speeding into a gas pump at a Route 13 gas station in Cortlandville, leaving him critically injured and the pump knocked off its mounts, police and witnesses said.

The Jeep narrowly missed a vehicle before crashing into the gas pumps at the Kwik Fill convenience store at Route 13 and McLean Road Extension. Cortland County sheriff’s officers were dispatched at 10:07 p.m. Wednesday to the Red Apple Gas station at 1057 Route 13.

An employee of the Red Apple was able to shut off the pumps to prevent further damage and gas leaks. The driver, 42, was taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse and is being treated for an undisclosed medical condition. He was listed in critical but stable condition as of last night, police said.

Police said the man was involved in a domestic argument before the accident, and while leaving the residence where the argument took place, reportedly struck a female with his vehicle. The female was reported to only have suffered a minor leg injury.

Jasmine Hawley, the assistant manager of the Kwik Fill store, said a review of the store’s exterior video footage showed the Jeep appeared to wait on Starr Road as two vehicles crossed the intersection on Route 13, then sped directly toward the pumps.

The Jeep narrowly missed a car that had just pulled into the gas station, store employees said.

“We didn’t see it, we heard it,” cashier Tina Wheeler said behind the counter of the store as emergency crews worked outside.

“At first we thought it was ice coming off the roof,” added Gerald Lockwood, another cashier.

Lockwood went outside to find the Jeep had hit the pumps, where he said he found the driver was at first motionless, but regaining consciousness as Lockwood went back inside the store to grab his coat.

When Lockwood returned to the car, the man had gotten out of the Jeep and was on the ground rolling around, saying he was cold.

Hawley, the assistant manager, said she left work at 6 p.m. and had been out Wednesday night visiting a friend when she received a call from workers at the store.

“I got a phone call saying somebody crashed into the pump,” she said. “I’m glad there weren’t a lot of people in here.” The shear pins, a safety feature, were severed by the crash and halted the flow of gasoline to the damaged pumps, she said.

“They worked the way they are supposed to,” Hawley said. Cortlandville Assistant Fire Chief Mike Biviano said the driver was taken by TLC Emergency Medical Services ambulance for evaluation.

Details were unavailable this morning. The incident is under investigation and anyone with information can call Sgt. John Gallagher at 607-758-5562.

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