WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – A 23-year-old Valhalla native is “a little stiff,” but resting comfortably at home after what should have been a leisurely midday trip to the mall nearly turned deadly.
Frank Kopicki was driving toward the Palisades Center in Nyack at around noon on the Tappan Zee Bridge Monday afternoon when a sheet of ice – approximately a foot long – slid off the top of an 18-wheeler and shattered his windshield, leaving him stunned and bloody.
Remarkably, no other motorist was affected, even after Kopicki hit the brakes and stumbled out of his car. He was then helped by an EMT that happened to be driving behind him, who was able to bandage him up before first responders arrived.
“I remember about 95 percent of it. I remember seeing the whole thing in slow motion,” he said. “I was able to kind of brace myself, and I kept my head down and luckily everyone was paying attention and avoided it. Then I sort of woke up after blacking out for a second or two. I was in shock.”
After getting immediate treatment from the EMT, Kopicki was then taken to Nyack Hospital, where he was treated with more than 20 stitches. He estimates that it took approximately 30 minutes from the time the ice struck his car to the time he was being assisted by doctors.
“I had a CAT Scan and everything came back alright. There’s a pretty decent sized gash on my forehead, about two inches long,” he said. “I have three layers of stitches and other scrapes and cuts under my hair and on my forehead. Besides that, not too bad.”
In recent years , many states – including Connecticut – have passed legislature that forces motorists and truck drivers to clear snow and ice off the roof of their vehicles to avoid dangerous “ice missiles.” Violators are subjected to fines, something Kopicki said he thinks should be enforced in New York.
“I’m not sure if there is one, but if there isn’t, there definitely should be a law, because this almost cost me my life,” said Kopicki, a graduate of Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains and Loyola University (Md.). “Luckily the spot of ice landed flat, if it was at an angle or I was driving closer, it could have cut me anywhere, and deeper.”
Kopicki spent approximately seven hours in the hospital last night getting treatment and resting before being released at 7 p.m. After his near miss, he said that there are lessons to be learned from his experience.
“I want to express to people that are driving that it is important to take a minute and clean off your cars, especially with the bad winter we’ve had, ” he said. “Always be cautious, no matter what the scenario, because I was just going to the mall on my day off at 12 in the afternoon. Driving is not something to be taken lightly, always be prepared.”
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