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Pittsfield Teen Rescued From Old Water Tank at Springside

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team consists of members from various departments throughout the region performing the rescues all over.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A teenager fell into an old water tank at Springside Park and had to be extricated by first responders.
 
Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Noyes said the teenager was with some friends in the area when he fell into a previously collapsed section of the tank. He plummeted some 25 feet and could not get out. After about an hour, he was extricated and transported to Berkshire Medical Center. Noyes said the boy's injuries are unknown right now but they appeared to be minor.
 
"It was really well done. All of our people did a great job," Noyes said of the rescue.
 
The tank has been fenced off by the city but teenagers are still known to go there. It was previously a reservoir that hasn't been used in years. The tank was empty when the 16-year-old fell inside.
 
Noyes said paramedic Carly Falone of Action Ambulance sat at the hole and talked with the teen to keep him calm as firefighters began setting up rescue operations. Noyes said the teenager reported he had trouble breathing and a broken wrist but he didn't know if there were any injuries beyond that.
 
The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team was called in, which includes several members of Pittsfield Fire two of whom were responding to the incident. Firefighters were able to start the rescue operation as they waited for the team's arrival.
 
"We are up to seven or eight active members," Noyes said of the city's membership on the technical rescue team. "Today shows why you have to have members tech trained."
 
The technical team consists of first-responders from all over Berkshire County who respond when needed. They brought a trailer full of equipment and set up a tripod system with ropes in order to lift the teenager out. Noyes said two members of the team, including a city firefighter, were lowered into the tank and were able to prepare the boy medically to be lifted out. The whole rescue took about an hour.
 
"It was efficiently done but it feels like a long time," Noyes said. "There are so many safeties and checks."
 
In a situation like that, Noyes said the first-responders need to be safe because a second person getting hurt in a situation like that makes matters exponentially harder. The additional length of time taken to ensure those safety measures are in place feels even longer for an injured patient, but in this case, the teenager was able to remain relatively calm throughout as he continued to engage with paramedics and firefighters in conversation.
 
Those responding to the incident were Engine 2, Engine 3, Tower 1, Engine 6, Rescue 1, Truck 10, and a six-wheeler, which is a piece of specialty equipment the department has on hand for such needs. Pittsfield Police officers had dispersed people in the area and secured the scene for firefighters and the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team performed the rescue. Action Ambulance transported the patient.
     

Pittsfield Man in Critical Condition Following Roll Over Crash

Staff Reports

Firefighters free the occupants from the vehicle.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A city man is in critical condition following a rollover accident on Columbus Avenue Saturday.
 
According to police, Chester Soutier was transported to Berkshire Medical Center following the crash and is in "critical but stable" condition.
 
Soutier was driving a 2009 Lincoln MKZ eastbound on Columbus Avenue and collided at the intersection of Center Street with a 2012 Hyundai Elantra being driven by Jaime Adorno, 35, also of Pittsfield.
 
Soutier's Lincoln then spun and rolled when it hit the curb. Lincoln and one other passenger were trapped in the vehicle and freed by Pittsfield Fire Department. The passenger, whom authorities did not name, as well as a passenger from in Hyundai was also transported to the hospital for minor injuries.
 
Columbus Avenue was closed to traffic from North Street to Center Street for about two and a half hours and then reopened.
     

Woman Injured In Crash at Problematic Pittsfield Intersection

Staff Reports

A solar-powered warning sign was installed within the last two years to reduce the number of drivers missing the stop sign. The tree on the right was the target of previous inquiries about it obscuring the sign at the intersection.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A 71-year-old woman was taken to Berkshire Medical Center for minor injuries Wednesday after a collision on East Housatonic Street.
 
According to Officer David Hallas, the woman was westbound on East Housatonic Street in an Oldsmobile Bravada when a Subaru Legacy, driven by a 35-year-old Great Barrington man ran the stop sign at Pomeroy Avenue and collided with the Oldsmobile.
 
"The driver of the Oldsmobile was transported to the hospital with minor injuries and the other driver was not injured," Hallas said.
 
The Oldsmobile veered and nearly struck a housing complex at that intersection, falling just a bit short. The building was not touched. The collision stymied traffic on the fairly well-traveled road for a short period of time before both vehicles were towed from the scene.
 
The accident is just one of many at that intersection over the years. Multiple petitions had been filed, and passed, by the City Council to make improvements to the intersection. For years, it was estimated that there was about one accident a month there. In 2004, the City Council approved a three-way stop sign to halt traffic on East Housatonic. In 2011, again the council approved a three-way intersection but neither petition had led to any changes.
 
In 2017, Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers refiled the petition asking for something to be done. Particularly, she said "nine times out of 10" the accidents are caused by drivers on Pomeroy not stopping at the stop sign. 
 
Commissioner of Public Services David Turocy said at the time that a three-way stop sign wouldn't be a solution because of traffic volume -- people would learn to just blow through the stop sign on East Housatonic Street.
 
The Traffic Commission took up the issue and pushed for increased visibility of the stop signs, with Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell saying at the time that the trees and buildings essentially create a "tunnel" that makes it hard for drivers to see.
 
The commissioner agreed to trim the nearby tree to increase light and entertained the notion of taking it out completely, though removal requires much more red tape because shade trees are protected by state law.  The commission also considered calling for an overhead light to be installed there -- with a flashing red for vehicles northbound on Pomeroy and yellow for east and westbound traffic on East Housatonic but the cost led the idea to be shelved.
 
Turocy agreed to trim the trees and to put in a solar-powered light to warn drivers of the impending stop sign on Pomeroy. That light had been installed but still, the intersection clearly remains problematic.
     

Pittsfield Police Respond to Shooting, Robbery, Arson

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police were busy in the wee hours of Sunday morning as officers responded to an armed robbery, an arson incident, and a shooting within a span of two hours.
 
Police say it began at about 12:30 a.m. when a black man, described as being 5-feet-10-inches tall robbed Alltown at gunpoint. The man escaped with an undisclosed amount of money. Anyone with information regarding that incident is asked to contact Detective Glenn Civello at 413-448-9700, Ext. 538.
 
Less than a half-hour later, police and firefighters responded to 82 Wendell Ave. for a report of a structure fire. There was a small fire on the porch that appeared to have been deliberately set, according to police. Witnesses said a man ran from the porch and then fled the area on a bicycle. He was described as being in his mid- to late 20s and wearing dark clothing and a long sleeve t-shirt. 
 
About an hour after that, at 1:44 a.m., a ShotSpotter activation sent officers to the area of Dewey Avenue and Madison Avenue.
 
Officers found several shell casings at the scene, "evidence that an individual may have been injured" and a vehicle struck by gunfire. However, no information was received confirming anyone of being shot — no injured party found nor reported at any area hospital. Anyone with information on that incident is asked to call the Pittsfield Police Department Detective Bureau at 413-448-9705.
     

Authorities Still Searching For Escaped Inmate

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Sheriff Thomas Bowler says he believes Chandler is still in the area.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Sheriff Thomas Bowler is asking 33-year-old Harry Chandler to turn himself in peacefully. 
 
The sheriff said a number of law enforcement agencies are still searching for Chandler more than 24 hours after he escaped custody while being treated at Berkshire Medical Center.
 
Chandler was arrested on July 3 on a number of warrants and was being treated at the hospital for infections in his hands when he assaulted the corrections officer and escaped.
 
"At this time we would encourage Mr. Chandler to turn himself in peacefully. We are working with members of his family and have made contact with his attorney. We further encourage the public to report possible sightings to the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, the Pittsfield Police Department, or the Massachusetts State Police if Mr. Chandler is observed at all," Bowler said on Tuesday during a press conference updating the public on the operation.
 
Chandler had been in the hospital since his arrest and, shortly after 2 p.m. on Monday, he was uncuffed to change from hospital garments to jail garments as he was being released from treatment and to be transported to the Berkshire County House of Correction. After getting the orange pants on, Chandler allegedly assaulted the guard watching him and then fled the hospital.
 
Bowler said the guard was treated for minor injuries and is back to work, even joining the manhunt to find him.
 
"We've been following leads with close to 50 law enforcement officers between the three agencies and federal resources. We were following leads until 4:30 this morning and then we regrouped again today at 8, 8:30 this morning," Bowler said.
 
Chandler was homeless at the time of his arrest but his family remains in the area. Bowler said his family is "very much involved" in the search. On social media, his sister made a plea on a number of posts hoping he'd see it and turn himself in.
 
"He is in the wrong and I hope he gets quickly and safely apprehended and gets the held he needs... he is also someone's son, brother, father, and loved one. Little Harry if you read this I implore you to turn your self in," Carrie Chandler wrote on a number of forums.
 
The 33-year-old Dalton native was once a champion Judo fighter who would ultimately begin to build a criminal record and struggle with addiction. Over the years he faced a number of changes for such things as assault and battery and breaking and entering.
 
In this latest arrest, the pending charges were breaking and entering, assaulting a police officer, drug possession, trespass, shoplifting, assault, and battery with a dangerous weapon and failing to register as a sex offender.
 

Harry Chandler.
"Mr. Chandler's criminal history, we do believe that he has some assaultive behavior, he is obviously a concern for us and we hope to apprehend him as soon as possible," Bowler said.
 
If or when he is caught, he'd be facing charges for escaping and assaulting an officer as well. 
 
Authorities don't believe he is an immediate threat to the public at large. However, it does give Bowler cause for concern that he has shown the willingness to be aggressive.
 
Bowler encourages the public not to approach Chandler if they see him but instead call the authorities.
 
"We certainly have no information that Mr. Chandler has accessed any weapons. He has already displayed aggressive behavior toward one of our individuals. He has some aggressive behavior in the past so obviously that is is a concern. That is why we are dealing with the family. We got the word into many of his associates to hopefully turn himself in so we can have a peaceful resolution," Bowler said. 
 
Bowler believes he is still in the immediate area and authorities have followed up on tips in Pittsfield, Dalton, and in one case Great Barrington. 
 
The search launched on Monday included the sheriff's office, Pittsfield Police, and officers from the Lanesborough Police Department. The Massachusetts State Police joined and a police helicopter searched for him.
 
The search continues with officers from the Sheriff's Office, Pittsfield Police, Massachusetts State Police, and an officer from the FBI, which Bowler said will bring technological resources to the effort.
 
The sheriff's office released a mugshot of Chandler and advised that he currently does not have the facial hair as photographed. He also may appear a bit thinner than in the photograph. 
     
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