Police and firefighters responded to a car fire on the northbound side of the Long Beach Bridge on Friday morning that led to the arrest of an Island Park woman for DWI, after she allegedly left the scene of an accident in Long Beach.
Ten firefighters and one engine from the Island Park Fire Department, led by second assistant Chief Michael Whelan, responded to the scene at 6:18 a.m. after a Jeep Grand Cherokee burst into flames.
“Someone was in the car, a female, she was removed and transported to the hospital by the Nassau County Police Department ambulance,” said Island Park Fire Chief Anthony D’Esposito. “The fire was out and my units were off scene in about a half an hour.”
Lt. Eric Cregeen, a spokesman for the Long Beach Police Department, said that the incident began in Long Beach along the 500 block of East Park Avenue when the driver of the Jeep, 48-year-old Veronica Dixon, of Island Park, allegedly struck a tree and a parked car before she fled the scene at around 6 a.m. The accident was reported to police at 6:04 a.m., Cregeen said, and an officer noticed a bumper and other debris from the vehicle left at the scene.
“She leaves the scene and when one of my guys gets there, he saw a trail of antifreeze,” Cregeen said. “He followed the trail to the Long Beach Bridge, where he sees the car fully engulfed. When my guy arrived she was out of the car and had a bump on her head. I’m not a mechanic, but if the car is leaking antifreeze, it’s not cooling itself — at some point the car burst into flames.”
Creegen said that Dixon sustained a head injury, and was taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital. No other injuries were reported. Cregeen said Dixon was charged with DWI and leaving the scene of an accident. An arraignment had yet to be scheduled.
D’Esposito said that the fire was extinguished in 30 minutes, but caused some traffic delays because the northbound lanes were closed, and motorists were redirected.
“As far as we know there was nothing suspicious about the fire — the length of time it took to put out was because of magnesium in the steering wheel pockets and under the hood,” he said, adding that the chemical acted as an accelerant. “It was almost like the tip of a sparkler.”