Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hailey man critical after gas station accident

Fire prevented in fuel spill at Sun Valley Sinclair

Express Staff Writer

Gasoline was spilled and a Hailey man was critically injured when a 1997 red Land Rover backed into a fuel pump and two vehicles Sunday morning at the Sun Valley Sinclair station on Trail Creek Road. Photo by Roland Lane

    A Hailey man was listed in critical condition at a Boise hospital Tuesday after being injured in an accident Sunday morning at the Sun Valley Sinclair gas station.
    Sun Valley police identified the injured man as 71-year-old Charles Bruce Innes. He was initially transported by Ketchum Fire Department ambulance to St. Luke’s Wood River hospital and was transferred from there by emergency medical helicopter to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.
    The accident occurred shortly after 8:30 a.m. when a Ketchum man backed a 1997 red Land Rover into a gas pump, smashing it and spilling fuel, striking Innes and his vehicle and hitting another vehicle that was being fueled.
    Sun Valley Police Chief Walt Femling said the investigation indicates that Innes was run over by the Land Rover, which was driven by 83-year-old Francis Gerlits. Femling said Gerlits was issued a citation charging him with “inattentive and careless driving.”
    “Francis said that he was backing up,” Femling said. “It looks like the vehicle lunged backwards, maybe by hitting the gas instead of the brake.”
    The driver of the second vehicle struck by the Land Rover was not injured. Femling credited the driver, Robert A. Juracek, 62, of Ketchum, with thinking quickly and pushing the fuel shutoff button and preventing a larger spill.
    “When [Gerlits] ran over that pump, we had fuel everywhere,” Femling said. “If that fuel didn’t get shut off quickly by the witness, we could have had a fire—we could have had a lot of things.”
    Emergency responders from the Sun Valley and Ketchum fire departments, the Sun Valley Police Department and the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the scene to care for the injured man, clean up spilled gasoline, keep traffic away from the accident area and to investigate the circumstances of the crash.
    Sun Valley Assistant Fire Chief Charlie Butterfield said good coordination among the agencies kept a bad situation from getting worse.
    “Anytime a vehicle hits a gas pump, that’s a big concern of ours because of the fuel spilled and the possibility of a fire,” Butterfield said.

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