THURSDAY, DEC. 31/ 09

***

AYLMER TODAY:

New Years Eve Family Party at East Elgin Community Centre;  games, skating etc., ; 6-9 pm; $10 per family.

-(No AylmerNews Friday)

OBITS:

Munroe, Barbara (Magyar);  of St.Thomas;  in her 62 nd year;  on Dec. 24;  sister of Joe Magyar, R.4 Aylmer;  a private family funeral was held Dec. 26.

“FORMER AYLMER AREA AMISHMAN OMAR EICHER INJURED IN CAR ACCIDENT RECENTLY””

(Reprinted from the Almaguin News of December 17, 2009 – by Laurel J. Campbell)

POWASSAN- Former Chisholm Reeve Bob Gray was involved in a serious accident with an Amish horse and buggy on Tuesday afternoon.

The collision saw the buggy driver, 61 year-old Omar Eicher of Chiswick Line air-lifted to Sudbury hospital. Eicher’s horse was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the OPP report, Gray was eastbound on Memorial Park Drive when his 2008 Nissan Altima collided with the back of the horse and buggy at 3:45 p.m.

Gray’s vehicle “piled into the buggy which was instantly reduced to kindling wood,” said Powassan area resident Ed Hook, an eyewitness to the accident. “It was like watching an IMAX movie. Everything was happening right beside me and there wasn’t anything I could do. The buggy flew to pieces like it had a bomb go off underneath it. The horse was dead and (Eicher) was lying in the middle of the road.”

Hook said he had been traveling eastbound on Memorial Park Road when he came up behind the buggy. “I slowed down and put on my four-way flashers so that any cars coming up behind me would know there was a slow moving vehicle on the road ahead. Any car approaching from behind me should have been able to see my little red car with the flashing red lights.”

Hook was pulling out into the westbound lane to pass the horse-drawn vehicle when Gray’s car “passed me on the right hand side and hit the buggy,” he said. “I had my cell phone with me and called 911 as I was getting out of my car. I went over to (Eicher) as I was talking to the emergency operator and was able to tell her that he was unable to talk to me. I put my hand on his chest and told her he was still breathing. She told me help was already on the way and I kept repeating that to him. I didn’t know if he could hear me, but I know it’s important to keep talking (to accident victims) just in case. I kept saying over and over, ‘hang on, help is on the way, hang on. . .’ ”

As Hook waited for the ambulance, he covered Eicher with his sweater, “and carefully placed my coat under his head. I was concerned about back injuries, but I just couldn’t stand to see his head lying on the cold road,” he said. “Fortunately, the ambulance response was really fast. As I was telling him help was on the way, I looked up and saw the flashing lights coming toward us.” He said during this time, Eicher never moved.

OPP report visibility was clear at the time of the accident, though the roads were snow covered and icy, with very cold temperatures reported. Powassan public works superintendent Garry Keown says road crews had sanded Memorial Park Drive just 15 minutes before the accident occurred.

Hook says OPP officers brought Eicher’s wife to the scene just before her husband was taken by ambulance to North Bay hospital and later air-lifted to Sudbury in critical condition. There was no update on his condition at press time. “I called the hospital later that night,” said Hook, “but all they would tell me was that he was still alive.”

Keown said the OPP called in public works at 4:30 p.m. to close the section of Memorial Park Drive and reroute traffic. The road was closed for about five hours.

“Because of the critical nature of the injuries we had to treat the accident as if it had been a fatality,” said sergeant Tim Sheppard of the North Bay OPP Detachment. “That meant pulling out all the stops and bringing in the Technical Traffic Collision Investigations Unit and the Forensic Identification Team, resulting in the lengthy road closure.”

Speed limits on Memorial Park Drive were reduced from 80 to 70 km/hr by Powassan council three years ago. The road was upgraded and refinished last summer.

“I believe this is the first serious accident we have had in the Powassan/Chisholm area since the horses and buggies have been on the road,” said Sheppard, “and the cause of the collision is still under investigation.”

As of News deadline, no charges had been laid.

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