ESTERO, Fla - Two teens are in the hospital after an early morning crash and one Estero Fire official says critical minutes passed because no helicopter was available to airlift the teens.
The accident happened off Corkscrew Road near US 41 in Estero, involving two FGCU students. Authorities say 19 year olds Connor Ceilley and Brent Raczowski were on the road after a night of drinking.
Their red pickup truck slammed into a light pole and both patients were trapped inside.
Ceilley is in serious condition at Lee Memorial Hospital. His passenger, Raczkowski, remains in critical condition at the same hospital.
FHP said both were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident.
Hours after the crash, WINK New obtained an email sent from Estero Battalion Chief Dale Reisen. It explains step by step what he thinks went wrong.
He says Aeromed, Medstars backup, was dispatched from Page Field, but because of mechanical problems they were unable to take off.
Dispatchers offered Bayflight, but when Chief Reisen learned it was coming from Sarasota, he requested Collier County's Medflight instead.
During this time, Ceilley was taken by ambulance to the hospital, while crews worked to get Raczkowski out of the truck.
In the email Reisen says, "The second patient was extricated at 24 minutes into the incident and at that time I asked dispatch to give me an ETA of Collier Medflight. They stated that Collier was unable to give them an ETA. Due to the long extrication time of my second patient I really needed a helicopter on the ground for rapid transport."
Because of the delay, Raczkowski was also taken to the hospital by ambulance.
Reisen says, "By the county shutting down the Medstar program and not having a reliable working medievac helicopter in its place, this placed my second patient with a longer transportation time that he could not afford to have."
Raczkowski arrived at the hospital 53 minutes after the 911 call was made. Reisen calls that time frame, "unacceptable and says it places an extra risk to patients in Estero."
Lee County Public Safety released a statement saying the accident did not meet the guidelines for air transportation because the patients were able to get to the hospital by ambulance in under 30 minutes. They feel the response was extremely well managed.