OSSINING, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A recently retired NYPD detective woke to faint sounds in the middle of the night, and ended up saving the life of a man who happened to be wanted by police for allegedly leaving the scene of a car accident in Westchester County.
Tom Lande of Purdys was rescued in the hour after midnight Tuesday after falling from a 20-foot rock wall into a deep ravine near the Mystic Pointe townhouse complex in Ossining, CBS 2’s Lou Young and 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports
“He was all the way at the bottom of that wall,” retired detective Nelson Dones said, pointing out the wall of stones. “All the way down.”
Dones, 57, who lives in the complex, called 911 after hearing the 50-year-old Lande screaming.
“I don’t know if I was tossing or turning, but I heard the word ‘help’ very faintly,” Dones told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.
WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reports
Dones said his detective instincts kicked in and he tried to track down the stranded man. Dones said as he got closer to the ravine, he continued to hear the calls for help.
“He was horizontal on his back. He couldn’t move. He was shaking. He was shivering. You could see he was in pain – severe pain,” Dones told CBS 2’s Young.
Finding the man was strange enough. Finding out how he got to the bottom of the ravine was even more bizarre.
It all started as a traffic accident in wet, slick conditions on Route 9A. A 2003 Jaguar rear-ended another vehicle, and when police arrived, they found the Jaguar – but not the driver. They figured he had left the scene.
They did not realize the driver had walked into the woods and gone over the edge of the steep ravine.
“He’s a very lucky man, because if somebody hadn’t found him – he was clearly in shock,” Dones said. “Had he been in that ditch all night, he might not have been here this morning.”
Lande was taken to Westchester Medical Center.
“There appeared to be a puncture wound on his right side, broken arm, broken finger and other injuries,” Fire Chief Thomas Reddy said.
As for Dones, he said he felt briefly like he was back on the job.
“It felt for a moment, yes,” Dones said. “I think anyone would have done the same thing.”
Authorities have charged Lande with leaving the scene of an accident. Police said they do not know why he allegedly fled the accident scene.
Lande remained hospitalized Tuesday evening, and it appeared that he had been in surgery much of the day.
The hospital as of Tuesday evening had no current information about Lande’s condition.
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