CIRCLEVILLE — A Circleville man was flown by medical helicopter to a Columbus area hospital after a tree limb that was struck by lightning fell on his car around 7 p.m. Thursday. The accident happened during a storm with high winds, lightning and sheets of rain that hit the area.
Dustin L. Gillette, 34, was westbound on Northridge Road when a large tree limb fell on the Toyota Highlander he was driving. The accident happened in front of 423 Northridge Road, between Nicholas Drive and Joy Court.
The impact of the limb crushed through the front end hood and windshield of the driver’s side, pinning Gillette in his vehicle. Braces were set in place to secure the huge limb as first responders used chain saws to cut away large branches and limbs that covered the car. It took first responders nearly an hour to extricate Gillette from his vehicle.
With a crew of four firefighters on duty – with two of the them called away from another emergency – Circleville Fire Chief Brian Thompson requested mutual aid from Pickaway Township Fire, Harrison Township Fire and Clearcreek EMS. Three employees from the city service department also responded to the scene when a front-end loader was needed to hoist part of the limb off the vehicle.
A medical helicopter from Survival Flight landed at OhioHealth Berger Hospital where a medic and nurse were met and driven to the scene by Circleville Police. Roads in the area were blocked off from traffic and an area on Northridge Road was sealed off for Survival Flight to land but there was not enough clearance. The helicopter returned to OhioHealth Berger Hospital. Once Gillette was freed from the wreckage, he was transported to OhioHealth Berger Hospital by squad and later flown by Survival Flight to Grant Medical Center, Columbus.
Gillette’s wife, Erin Gillette, 34, was a passenger in the vehicle and received minor injuries. She was transported to OhioHealth Berger Hospital by Clearcreek Medic.
As of Friday afternoon, Circleville Police Sgt. Travis McKinney said Gillette remained in Grant, was doing well and in stable condition.
Thompson said a total of 23 from the area responded to the scene: Circleville Fire with four on duty firefighters plus its fire chief; Pickaway brought in a crew of five along with a squad and engine; Harrison came with a crew of three and its fire chief and engine; Clearcreek had a crew of three and a squad; Circleville Police had three at the scene; and the city Service Department had three.