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St. George’s Golf Club

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Firefighters tackle the blaze at St. George’s Golf Course. Photo by Dennis Whittam

Paul Rodier, the first assistant chief of the Setauket Fire Department, responded to the scene of a car accident Jan. 3 at St. George’s Golf Club on Lower Sheep Pasture Road in Setauket. What he found on arrival was much more than that.

“The original call stated ‘car accident,’” Rodier said. “A minute and a half later ‘car into building.’ Then, ‘car into building on fire’ and finally, ‘possibly a person trapped in the car.’”

According to Suffolk County police, 19-year-old Alyssa Chaikin lost control of her 2003 Jeep Liberty on wet pavement at about 5:40 p.m. She struck a wooden guardrail, went through a chain-link fence and down an embankment. The car crashed into a building on the golf course. The Jeep caught fire and the fire spread to the building, which houses a bathroom and is used for selling refreshments, and was destroyed.

Chaikin was able to crawl out of the vehicle and was assisted by another driver, Richard Glaser, who quickly ushered her away from the blaze to his vehicle, parked on the side of the road.    

Upon his arrival at the scene, Rodier said the car and a third of the building were engulfed, and traffic was heavy on Sheep Pasture Road. An electric pole was also involved and may have been the cause of the fire.

“That female is very lucky to be alive. The call went from bad to worse. Thankfully, it ended well. That’s our main goal.”

— Paul Rodier

Rodier said he found a first responder and a medic with the ambulance. He was directed to the young woman, seated in the passenger seat of the good Samaritan’s car, where he assessed her condition. Finding her breathing, able to communicate and not requiring emergency measures at the scene, Chaikin, of Stony Brook, was transferred to the ambulance, and Rodier turned his attention to orchestrating the fire response.

Glaser, a manager of information technology at Stony Brook University Hospital, said he was driving by and pulled over to try to help. He said he did not see the accident happen.

“It feels really good that I was able to pay it forward and help someone out,” he said in an email. “I just hope that more people do the same when the opportunity happens.”

Stony Brook University Hospital was contacted to confirm if Chaiken was still a patient on Jan. 10, but no further information was available. Her parents could not be reached for comment.

Rodier said an investigation was ongoing to determine the cause of the accident and that he hoped news of the accident would cause other drivers to concentrate more on their driving and try harder to avoid distractions.

“This was a wake-up call to pay attention to your driving,” Rodier said. “We don’t know all the details. It should not have happened. That female is very lucky to be alive. The call went from bad to worse. Thankfully, it ended well. That’s our main goal.”

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