Ithaca Man Critical After Crash, Police Chief Credited With Saving His Life

A 54-year-old Ithaca man is in critical condition after a two-car accident and a local police chief is credited with saving the man’s life.

New York State Police at Ithaca were dispatched to a two-car accident Thursday, January 03, 2019 at approximately 2:40 p.m. on State Route 13 at the intersection of Lower Creek Road in the town of Ithaca.  Moments before troopers arrived, Ithaca City Police Chief Pete Tyler was in the area and stopped to assist.

The man, 54 year old Robert P. Gelinas Jr., was bleeding from the head and not breathing when Chief Tyler immediately began life saving measures.  Troopers and emergency responders from Dryden Ambulance and Varna Fire Department assisted and all worked together to try to stabilize him.  The man was then rushed by Dryden Ambulance to the Ithaca Airport where he was flown by Lifenet to Upstate Medical Center where he remains in critical condition.

The driver of the other vehicle, a 24-year old Jenna M. Swertfager of Dryden, who is pregnant was taken by ambulance to Cayuga Medical Center as a precautionary measure.  A trooper used two fire extinguishers to put out a fire in her vehicle as the Varna Fire Department arrived on scene.

An investigation by troopers determined that Gelinas was operating a 2012 Hyundai Sonata and was stopped (facing north) in the intersection of State Route 13 and Lower Creek Road and failed to yield the right of way to the other vehicle when turning left.  He was also not wearing a seatbelt.  Swertfager was operating a 1999 Plymouth Breeze and was traveling in the southbound direction.  The road was partially closed for approximately one-hour as troopers investigated and cleared the scene.

The investigation is still on-going.

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