PLEASANTVILLE — One driver fled the scene while another driver was trapped in his vehicle after a head-on crash in front of a medical building Thursday morning on North Franklin Boulevard, police said.
The second driver’s pickup stopped inches from the sign for the Reliance Medical Center, and ladders from the truck were leaning on top of the center’s maroon sign. A pediatrician from the center, Laura Bonaker, was able to help resuscitate the trapped driver, whose pulse was very weak at first, she said.
“I think his spine is broken and his skull is fractured at the base,” Bonaker said while medics continued to attend to the victim, who was identified by police as Jose L. Matta, 53, of Pleasantville. Matta, who public records show owns Gonzo, a Pleasantville-based construction company, was taken to the ICU unit at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus.
Meanwhile, police searched for Carlos A. Fermin, 26, also of Pleasantville, who they said fled after the SUV he was driving left his southbound lane, entered oncoming traffic and crashed into Matta’s pickup truck. A witness reported the driver ran northbound on Franklin Boulevard.
“He hit him head-on, the car spun around, and then he fled the scene,” Bonaker said.
Police called the owner of the vehicle Fermin was driving, who alleged that Fermin was using the SUV without permission. Officers were then able to get in touch with Fermin and have him return to the scene, police Captain Rocky Melendez said.
Fermin was taken into custody and treated at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, for minor head injuries, police said. He faces criminal charges of assault by auto, leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injuries and being an unlicensed driver of a vehicle involved in a serious crash. Bail was set at $20,000 cash.
At the crash scene, emergency response teams from Pleasantville and the Absecon Fire Department were able to extract Matta in about 20 minutes while providing treatment, which included rescue breathing and pumping his chest on the gurney as they transferred him into the ambulance.
An Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office fatal collisions unit was sent to the scene due to the seriousness of the crash.
Bonaker said the fact that Matta was trapped for more than four minutes made his situation critical.
The extraction left the truck looking like a convertible, with nothing but the front door and the bed intact.
The accident, which occurred at about 9:15 a.m., caused heavy traffic on Main Street and officers were stationed in the area to reroute traffic.
“This is a terrible, terrible intersection,” said Bonaker. She added she intends to write letters to city officials and that many in the area have recognized it as a dangerous intersection.
“We’ve had many accidents here before — not as serious as this one,” she said.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information or who may have witnessed the crash, can contact the Pleasantville Police Department at 609-641-6100. The crash is being investigated by Lt. Matthew Hartman and Patrolman Stacey Williams, of the Pleasantville Police Department, along with Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Fatal Collision Unit Sgt. Kevin Hincks.
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