Just before 5 pm, Saturday, Tisbury police, EMS, and fire rescue crews responded to a report of a car that had struck a fire hydrant and was in the woods off Edgartown-Vineyard haven Road near Sanborn Way. When police arrived, the car, described by a witness as a small grey sedan, was gone, but the decapitated fire hydrant lay near by, along with more than 50 pieces “of damaged front end and undercarriage car parts,” according to the police report.
The witness told police she saw the car “leave the southbound travel lane, drive up the bike path, hit a fire hydrant and then continue south on the Edgartown Road.”
Officer Michael Gately and Sergeant Chris Habekost were able to identify the make of the car, a VW Passat, by researching part numbers on the Internet. They began a search.
The next day, Matthew Rossi, 26, of Edgartown called police to say he was the driver of the vehicle. Mr. Rossi said he lost control of his vehicle on his way home due to the icy condition of the road. He told police he was not drinking.
“I asked Rossi why didn’t he stop,” Officer Gately said in his report. “Rossi told me he panicked and made a bad choice. Rossi told me he did a stupid thing.”
Police issued Mr. Rossi a citation for negligent operation of a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of property damage, and marked lane violation.
Fire Chief John Schilling said the hydrant was snapped off at ground level, but unlike the Hollywood version which emits a geyser of water when struck, the shutoff valve is located below ground level.
Water District superintendent Paul Wohler said the hydrant costs about $1,800, not including installation. In the case of an accident, Mr. Wohler said the district uses a recovery service to recoup the costs from the driver’s insurance company.