Jeffrey Weed, 49, was submerged for several minutes after the impact of the crash flipped his truck into the murky waters of a pond adjacent to Route 85.
Police officers and a good Samaritan, Noah Enslow, 33, of Sprague, leaped into the water to free Weed, who was then flown to Hartford Hospital.
Police said Paul Deckelman, 31, of Old Saybrook, stole a pickup truck from an Old Saybrook convenience store, then led police on a high-speed chase along I-95 and then on Route 161 into Montville, crashing into Weed’s truck where Route 161 meets Route 85 in Montville.
Deckelman was arraigned Wednesday in Superior Court in Norwich on first-degree larceny, third-degree assault, reckless driving, first-degree reckless endangerment, and other charges. Judge Barbara Jongbloed set Deckelman’s bail at $200,000 and ordered him back to court July 11.
Deckelman is a 2004 graduation of the University of Connecticut, his public defender, Cynthia Lover, told the judge. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing. He has had several arrests the past two years, Lover said, because of a serious drug addiction.
Weed, a propane technician for Osterman Propane LLC., was driving west on Route 85 when his truck was hit by the stolen 2005 Chevrolet Silverado.
Weed’s upper body was submerged until Trooper Timothy Bentley, Sgt. Wilfred Blanchette and Enslow went into the water to save him. They worked together to wrench the passenger door open, then worked to get Weed out.
“The trooper went into the cab to work on getting the individual out,” said Enslow, a Coast Guard veteran who now works at Electric Boat in Groton. “While he was working on his lower half, I grabbed the gentleman’s shoulders and torso in order to bring his head above water. When his head broke the surface, within a few seconds he took a breath, which was a fantastic sound.”
Blanchette was in the cab working to free Weed while Bentley and Enslow twisted Weed’s torso to keep his face above water. They also had to cut his seatbelt to get him out. Weed was able to wiggle his leg to help free himself, Enslow said.
Enslow had run from a nearby home, where he was helping a friend move. When they heard the impact and saw the truck in the water, Enslow ran over to lend a hand. In the Coast Guard, he was trained as an emergency medical technician and worked at a search and rescue station.
“We were able to get his head above water rather quickly,” Enslow said. “It’s really hard to do CPR in the water. When he started breathing on his own, it was good.”
In addition to his work as a dock master technician at EB, Enslow is also a fledgling politician and was the Republican candidate for the 47th House District seat. He didn’t win, but said he plans to try again.
Once Weed was out of the water, Enslow said he and the troopers “shook hands, gave knuckle bumps” and said “have a good day.”
“Being able to assist someone in their time of need, especially when their life is on the line, it is great when everything works out,” he said.
By David Owens, Hartford Courant