Aug. 27--TRAVERSE CITY -- Jeffery Gulick came upon a grim scene as his car pulled up to a two-vehicle auto accident in Leelanau County's rural Centerville Township.
A damaged pickup truck and battered car sat in a farm field near Bodus and Schomberg roads; power lines hung just feet from the ground of the intersection and blocked both roadways; a single emergency responder crouched on the ground near an injured person trying to save a life.
Emergency vehicles began arriving on scene within minutes. Their occupants set to work at the fatal crash site and instructed Gulick to stand by the downed lines to make sure no one touched them.
Rescue efforts were too late for one of the drivers. Brian Richard Nachazel, 31, of Cedar, died at the scene after a vehicle occupied by three Leelanau County teenagers blew a stop sign and struck his pickup truck early Saturday.
Gulick focused on keeping people away from the power lines as rescue workers began to assist Drake Hendershot, 17, of Empire, Peyton Picard, 16, of Maple City, and Tyler LeVeque, 16, of Lake Leelanau.
"I stood by the wires, and prayed for these kids, and prayed for their families," Gulick said.
The downed power lines and the arrival of the teens' parents and classmates complicated rescue efforts as ambulances and fire trucks pulled up.
Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich said deputies and other responders worked to simultaneously rescue the injured crash victims, preserve evidence at the scene, protect the privacy and dignity of those injured, and keep people who walked around the scene safe.
"It's a very hard scene to deal with for (deputies), so I commend them for their great efforts, and the other first responders as well," Borkovich said.
Borkovich said he did not know how long it took to transport the injured teens away from the scene.
Leelanau County sheriff's Lt. Clint Kerr said he arrived at the crash and saw one teen already inside an ambulance. He said emergency personnel airlifted another teen and firefighters worked "heroically" for two hours to remove a third teen from the mangled wreck, all while working around downed power lines.
Gulick, like sheriff's officials, commended the rescue efforts he witnessed that night.
"What I saw was deeply concerned, deeply caring, incredibly resolved first responders at every level, including the first guy on scene," he said. "One of those kids is alive because of what the first guy did."
Copyright 2014 - The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich.