Three Enterprise Fire Company volunteers received commendations last fall for their life-saving marine rescue efforts during Hurricane Irene. On Monday, an Upper Moreland man who put their lives in jeopardy accepted responsibility, according to this report.
William A. Conner, 39, of the 400 block of Davisville Road, received a three-year probation after pleading guilty to three charges of reckless endangerment, as well as a criminal mischief charge stemming from his failure to obey barricades placed on flooded roadways during Hurricane Irene last August.
Conner circumvented police barricades on Davisville Road during Irene, became stuck, left his stranded vehicle and was swept away in the strong currents, Enterprise Fire Company Chief Keith Gordon told Patch previously.
As conditions of Conner’s probation, he must carry out 36 hours of community service and pay the fire company $2,800 in restitution to cover the expense of equipment – including a life jacket, portable radio and more – that was lost or damaged during the rescue.
The Hatboro-based fire company was dispatched after Willow Grove emergency responders determined that a marine rescue was needed. Firefighter Patrick Avallon, his brother, Captain Alex Avallon and Chief Engineer Dave Lemek manned the rescue boat while Assistant Fire Chief James Anders III acted as the eyes on the ground, eventually calling in a mayday for his team, who at one point appeared to be in need of rescuing.
But, the crew shared after the courageous rescue that saving Conner’s life was a unified effort most at the forefront, even when their own boat was carried away and their safety jeopardized.
“Seeing this guy cling to a tree right in front of us … helps you to focus and stay calm,” Patrick Avallon told Patch. “You just can’t let him get swept away and drown.”
Motorists’ failure to obey temporary road closures, thus jeopardizing the safety of first responders, prompted State Rep. Todd Stephens (R-151) of Horsham, to sponsor the “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” bill, which has since been signed into law. Under the law, those who ignore barricades during floods would be fined $250 to $500 and have points assessed to their driving record.