New London — A mother and her pregnant daughter credit one well-placed tree off Crystal Avenue with saving them from potentially serious injuries.
Jacqueline Gibbs joined her mother, Londa Gibbs, both of New London, in tears after spending a harrowing 40 minutes Tuesday seated in a Chevrolet Caprice hanging precariously over a concrete barrier separating the parking lot of the Courtview Square apartment complex from an 8-foot drop-off onto Crystal Avenue.
Police, firefighters and city public works crews were called out at 3:22 p.m. and arrived to find the car's front end 6 feet above the ground, leaning against a tree that had stopped the car's momentum.
A tree limb had snapped and landed on wires, forcing first responders to wait on any kind of rescue attempt until they were sure the wires were not still live.
Jacqueline Gibbs, 25, the driver and 14 weeks pregnant, said she was leaving the complex when she realized the car was accelerating and not stopping.
"I was picking up speed, and my foot wasn't even on the gas pedal. I tried park. I tried neutral. I pushed everything, but nothing worked," she said. "I'd never been in a situation like that."
Across the street, Mary White heard the crash and ran to see what had caused the commotion.
"I thought for sure it was going to go over (the edge)," White said. "The thing that saved them is that tree."
A neighbor warned the two women not to leave the car for fear of the electrified wires. So they sat helplessly, comforted by firefighters who attempted to keep them calm.
Jacqueline Gibbs said she could only watch as a crowd gathered and people started taking pictures, even laughing.
"It wasn't a laughing matter," she said.
Without the seat belts, Londa Gibbs said she would have at the very least smashed her head into the windshield.
"I would have been dead," she said.
The car was eventually pulled off the overhang with coordination of a city front-end loader lifting the front end and a tow truck with a winch, supplied by Bernie's Service Station, at the rear.
Both mother and daughter refused medical treatment.
"I'm just glad they're both OK," said Courtview property manager Phyllis Pezzolesi.
Jacqueline Gibbs said she plans to have a talk with the person who sold her the car, now totaled.