The first firefighter on the scene, ironically, was the chief. He was off duty but driving nearby and he heard it on the radio and a couple of moments later he was peering into the crumpled vehicles to access the situation.
Engine 12 was already en route but Chief Sam Mitrano got on the radio and told dispatch to roll a people-trapped assignment and to hurry it along.
And everybody in Group 3 heard it in his voice.
The chief was shook.
However many decades in the department, all those runs, and on Black Friday, standing by some mangled Fords across from East High, the chief was shook.
It started in Macedon minutes before, when a shoplifting call over a bottle of hooch put a small-town police chief in the crosshairs of a pickup truck headed for the door. John Colella’s department has its hands full in the Wal-Mart plaza. Any number of industrial shoplifters from the city hit Wal-Mart and the little stores that flank it and then hightail it back home when they’ve got their loot.
It is a predictable, daily occurrence.
And a man walked out of a liquor store in the plaza a little after 1 Friday afternoon with a $35 bulge in his pants. The store got a description of his vehicle, called 9-1-1 and 9-1-1 radioed Macedon Police and the chief, prepositioned in the lot, made the ID and moved to intercept.
When they tried to ram him.
According to authorities, the truck, driven by a middle-aged man with two female passengers, drove directly at the chief.
And the chase was on.
Because while you typically can rip Wal-Mart off blind and get away with it, when you try to run down a cop, you typically don’t get away with it.
So the scum headed back to the city and the cop followed.
Like a bat out of hell.
Speeds haven’t been reported, and we haven’t heard anything about coordination with other police or dispatching agencies. But Macedon is 15 miles from East High, and there’s a county line to be crossed, as well as the city limit, and things were apparently still moving right along when the deputy chief came to the intersection.
Marty McMillan would normally have been working, but he was on furlough. That’s vacation. He took the holiday weekend off.
And he was sideways of East Main Street when he was t-boned by the pickup.
It was a physically devastating collision and in an instant two heavy-duty vehicles collapsed around their occupants in a twist of steel and blood.
The Macedon police chief was a few blocks behind, obstructed by a semi, and when he got around he came upon the wreck and called for help.
Which is what brought Sam Mitrano.
An affable man, Salvatore Mitrano III is universally known as Fat Sam. He is also known as a good man. In the shakeup associated with a new mayor, most folks hope he’ll stay onboard.
He found Marty McMillan upside down in a flipped SUV.
The chief called in people trapped, then asked for a people-trapped assignment, then an extra engine company and then the on-duty deputy chief.
The steady uptick of the assignment let emergency workers and scanner junkies know that this was a bad call. The Twitter world was all over it.
There were three trapped in the pickup truck – a middle-aged male ex-convict who was driving, and two female passengers, one middle-aged, the other in her 20s. Also in the pickup truck, it turned out, was an awful lot of merchandise apparently stolen from various stores in the Macedon Wal-Mart plaza.
Three apparent thieves, and an off-duty deputy chief, and one hell of a wreck.
There are four “groups” in the Rochester Fire Department. Each group covers 42 hours of the 168 hours necessary for 24/7 coverage, and is commanded by a deputy chief. Marty McMillan is the deputy chief over Group 3 and it was Group 3 that was working Black Friday.
So when the firefighters began to open up the SUV and pry its occupant out, it was their boss they were working on. Had he not taken the day off, and had there still been a wreck, Marty McMillan would have responded to the call.
Rochester police officers gathered quickly and in large numbers. Their faces were solemn and grave. In the intense focus of the scene, firefighters working to free the three trapped in the pickup had not been told the identity of the man in the SUV. It wasn’t until he was freed from the wreckage that they looked over and recognized their boss.
Last night, the occupants of the pickup truck were listed in satisfactory condition, while the deputy chief was in guarded condition.
And that’s what happened on Black Friday outside East High, when good met evil.