SUV crashes, lands in Highland Park fountain
By Tony LaRussa
Published: Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 9:39 p.m.
Pittsburgh police Sgt. Mike Pilyih has seen plenty of wrecks during his 25 years in law enforcement.
But none was as odd as the crash that occurred on Thursday evening, when the driver of a sport utility vehicle lost control of the vehicle, which went airborne nearly 50 feet over a reflecting pond and landed on its roof in the fountain at the entrance to Highland Park.
“I've seen a lot of accidents and other things in my career, but this one's on top,” Pilyih said. “It's the wildest thing I've ever seen.”
The driver, who was not identified, was taken to UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland.
The incident began about 6 p.m. along Highland Avenue, several blocks from the entrance to the park, when the driver may have had a medical emergency and hit a parked car, Pilyih said.
Witnesses told police that the green Saturn SUV entered the park traveling between 30 and 40 mph and drove across several hundred feet of lawn and flower beds.
It crashed through a wrought iron bench before hitting the low, sloped wall that surrounds the reflecting pond.
The angle of the wall appears to have served as a ramp, causing the vehicle to fly into the air, flip and land on its roof on top of the fountain, according to police.
The bench, which had been bolted to the ground, landed on the edge of the wall about 40 feet away. Plastic engine parts were scattered and floating in the reflecting pond.
Water from the fountain continued to spray into the vehicle until park employees arrived to shut it off.
Dr. Sarah Hagerty was walking her dog near the fountain when she saw the crash.
“I saw the car take out the bench, then fly up about 10 or 20 feet before it landed,” said Hagerty, who is doing her residency at UPMC Presbyterian.
“It was pretty intense, but I felt comfortable enough to go over and try and help the man,” whom she described as elderly.
Hagerty said the driver was unrestrained and his head was partially submerged when she got to the vehicle.
“I lifted his head out of the water, and he was conscious,” she said. “He was able to talk to me and tell me his name, but he didn't know what was going on. I didn't know if the vehicle was stable, so I just told him not to move, and we waited until the paramedics arrived.”
Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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