Lake Havasu City emergency responders kicked off the New Year with shattered windows, an ejected driver and a rampant alleged drunk driver — all within the first 45 minutes of 2013.
A gas bomb, which was part of the annual Uptown Countdown on Main Street event’s fireworks finale, shattered windows to a handful of businesses just after midnight New Year’s Eve.
Battalion Chief Mike Quijada, of Lake Havasu City Fire Department, said the explosion was the highlight of the event reporting fire crews stationed at the event responded to just one medical call.
“Other than that thing that scared the crap out of everybody,” Quijada said of the explosion.
Fire Captain Tim Maple, who was stationed at the event with his crew called the explosion “unexpected” during a telephone interview Tuesday.
Maple and fellow firefighters were about 20 yards from the fireworks display, and about 50 yards from the windows that were shattered.
“It was surprising, definitely unexpected,” Maple said. “We felt the compression and felt the heat wave from the intensity of it.”
Revelers were taken back and initially concerned by the unexpected boom. Firefighters at Fire Station No. 5 on Lake Havasu Avenue and at Fire Station No. 1 on South Acoma Boulevard reported hearing the explosion.
“Nobody really heard the windows break,” Maple said.
Maple said his crew responded to one medical call at a local bar about 8 p.m. Monday during the event, but it was unrelated to the Main Street event.
Lake Havasu City Police Sgt. Terry Eyestone said the damaged window were of Peach’s Salon, Rosie’s Alterations and of an empty business located at the corner of Querio Drive and McCulloch Boulevard.
Eyestone said unofficial damage estimates of the plate windows could be in the range of several thousand dollars.
“It was really mellow,” Eyestone said of the street party. “It was real slow. There were no problems downtown at all.”
Event organizer Eden Rudin said about 2,500 tickets were sold, which is about 1,500 less than last year’s event.
“Attendance didn’t quite meet expectations, but the event was great,” she said. “And the street performers stole the show.”
Rudin said the Kids Zone of the street party was popular. She also reported about $4,800 was spent on the event’s two fireworks shows. One was at 8 p.m., the other at midnight.
At 12:14 a.m. police responded to a single-vehicle crash in the 2000 block of South Jamaica Boulevard. A smashed car was located with no driver. Police cancelled fire department services noting the driver had left the scene, Quijada said.
At 12:24 a.m. a Cadillac barreled at high speeds through the accident nearly struck police on scene. The Cadillac’s driver lost control, crashed into landscaping near the first accident and came to rest about 20 feet north of the first vehicle, according to police reports.
During the second accident, a tire flew from the Cadillac and struck the back of a police officer, taking him, uninjured, to the ground. It was then the officer noticed the victim of the first crash, who had been ejected into landscaping from his small compact vehicle, Quijada said.
Police reports stated the man was about 20 feet from the vehicle.
At 12:33 a.m. local fire department firefighters and medics were re-dispatched to the accident scene to treat the injured, ejected man.
“It smashed the heck out of the car, and ejected the driver,” Quijada said. The man was the sole occupant of the vehicle in the first crash.
Police didn’t immediately have the man’s identity or details of his condition Tuesday. Police did say the man was air-lifted via medical helicopter to a trauma hospital in Las Vegas.
“The first vehicle was traveling southbound on Lake Havasu Avenue at the curve and lost control at a high rate of speed,” Eyestone said. “They do suspect alcohol was involved … another car did the same exact thing, almost striking patrol cars and officers.”
Quijada reported the man suffered multi-systems trauma and was in critical condition when he was transported to Havasu Regional Medical Center from the scene. The ejected man was en route the local hospital at 12:42 a.m. Crash investigations are ongoing.
Police arrested the driver of the vehicle involved in the second crash. The driver and one female passenger were uninjured in the ordeal. Police reports stated the driver was traveling about 80 mph at the time of the second crash.
Police arrested driver Jeffrey A. Bucknum, 46, of Havasu, on suspicion of drunken driving after he reportedly performed poorly during field sobriety tests and routine alcohol breath tests concluded his blood alcohol content was .17 percent. Bucknum was charged with extreme DUI and five counts of felony endangerment, according to police reports.
Like the first unidentified driver, Bucknum was traveling southbound on Lake Havasu Avenue in a black 2008 Cadillac.
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