FALCONER – The driver of a vehicle that crashed into a Jamestown area river has a simple message for those ahead of one of the biggest party weekends of the year: don’t drink and drive.
Earlier in the week, a water rescue team recovered a van involved in the drunk driving incident last fall. Among those watching from shore, the young woman involved in the crash, a crash she tells us almost claimed her life.
Last fall, Nichole Reynolds left a party, heavily intoxicated, driving to a friend’s house in Falconer. Later in the night, she drove down Water Street, falling asleep at the wheel.
“I woke up to the water being at hood level, and just kind of freaking out. Needing to get the window down, my first thought was get the window down and get my seatbelt off and get me out of the van. And it took like, probably eight to ten minutes to actually get out of the water,” says Reynolds.
Since the crash, Reynolds’ van has sat at the bottom of the Chadakoin River.
“Back in October, I believe it was, the Falconer Fire Department responded to this location for a report of a vehicle in the water. That day, the occupants were safely out of the vehicle when everyone got here,” explains Noel Guttman, the County’s Emergency Services Director. “And at the time, it was deemed not safe conditions to try and recover that vehicle.”
Those with the Falconer Volunteer Fire Department arrived on scene first, quickly realizing there wasn’t an emergency at all, but instead, the vehicle resurfaced.
“The water level lowered and the vehicle became visible, so now the dive team can go ahead and get the vehicle out safely,” says Avery Faulkner, Second Assistant Chief.
That’s when the Chautauqua County Water Emergency Team got to work.
“The water is very cold, there is an ice shelf on the other side of the river. So, it is still very cold. They donned their dry suits to keep them warm and were able to safely recover it,” says Glenn Giles. “We attached two rescue swimmers to tethers from shore. They were able to swim across the river and attach a tow-line to the vehicle, and the tow truck was then able to pull it out.”
Even though there is some risk involved, officials tell us this is a good example of a real-world training opportunity.
“Every call, in any type of emergency service, you can always learn from it. And those experiences all work to build an index of skills that when you’re needed on them, they’re there for ya,” says Guttman.
For driver Nichole Reynolds, the recovery gave her closure to the crash.
“I’ve just been waiting for so long to turn it into the insurance company and not have to pay the thousands of dollars that it’s gonna be in this tow bill, so it’s a little relieving,” says Reynolds.
Her message is simple.
“Don’t drink and drive,” pleads Reynolds. “That was like the biggest thing because that’s what I did. I was very drunk and I drove my vehicle and this is the result of drinking and driving.”
Though this incident led to her second DWI, Reynolds has been sober for over three months.