BY CHRIS WYMANVERNON — Michael and Kelly Fertitta of Vernon were injured along with their six-year-old son last Saturday, when their Jeep tumbled down a ski trail.
The crash happened while the family was off-roading at the Tennessee Gas Pipeline section of the Mountain Creek ski resort. According to a report by the Vernon Police Department, the 2007 Jeep Wrangler rolled over "while traversing down the embankment."
Local resident Thomas Hayes was near the Tennessee Gas Pipeline right of way when he he saw a vehicle tumbling down the pipeline. Hayes guessed the vehicle rolled over between 15 and 20 times on its way down the mountain.
According to Hayes, he asked someone nearby to contact the police and immediately made his was to the base of the steep incline. Hayes climbed his way up to where he thought the vehicle had finally stopped and encountered a bear, which quickly moved on.
Hayes said that when he happened upon the scene he saw a man trapped inside of the Jeep and a woman trying to climb back up the hill. He said he realized the woman was trying to reach a boy who had been ejected farther up the slope.
Hayes reached the boy and carried him to an emergency response vehicle that had arivved on the scene. He later carried the boy to a Vernon ambulance in the lower staging area on Steamboat Drive East. The ambulance transported the boy to an awaiting medivac helicopter.
Hayes' clothing suggested that he might have taken a tumble or two during his efforts to aid the victims and rescue the boy.
According to the police report, the accident site was inaccessible to ambulances or fire trucks. Emergency responders used an all-terrain vehicle to transport Kelly Fertitta, 43, down the mountain to an awaiting medivac helicopter. After extricating the driver, Michael Fertitta, 39, from the Jeep he was also transported down the mountain on an all-terrain vehicle to a helicopter. All three were airlifted to Morristown Medical Center.
According to the police report, Atlantic Air One also provided air support in locating the Jeep for emergency response personnel.
The Vernon Township Police Detective Bureau, Sussex County Prosecutors Office, and members of the New Jersey State Police responded to the scene to investigate the crash. The Vernon Township Ambulance Squad, Glenwood Pochuck Ambulance Squad, McAfee Fire Department, Vernon Township Fire Department, and St. Claire’s Paramedics responded to the call. The crash is still under investigation.