Watch: Mentor Firefighters Meet With Family Whose Lives They Saved

Mentor firefighters rescued the Lukasiewicz and Blare family when a man drove his car into their home on Comanche Trail

The last time the Mentor firefighters saw 3-year-old Christopher Lukasiewicz, they were pulling a car off of him.

A man had driven his car into his family's home on Comanche Trail in the middle of the night on December 9.

His father Christopher Lukasiewicz, mother Tonya Blare, him and 18-month-old daughter Cassy Lukasiewicz all needed to be taken to the hospital. And, while everyone survived, both the older and younger Chrisophers had very serious injuries.

Fortunately, when the firefighters saw the Lukasiewicz and Blare family Thursday at Mentor Fire Station 5, it was under much better circumstances. And young Christopher, instead of being in the back of an ambulance, got to sit in the driver's seat of the fire truck.

The firefighters -- many of who helped the family that night -- got to see how they were recovering; and the family had the opportunity to thank the firefighters.

Blare told the firefighters they were getting on the best they could.

"We're glad to be alive and doing everyday things," she said. "Before, you might complain about changing diapers and stuff like that. Now, I'll change diapers. I don't mind diapers."

Blare thanked the firefighters for their help that night.

"These firefighters are amazing," she said. "They are unbelievable how they took everything in stride. They got there so fast and they formulated a plan."

Blare added that, if the firefighters had not worked so quickly to get her family to the hospital, it was likely that some of them would not have survived.

Blare also wanted to thank everyone who had prayed for their family or helped them with donations. She singled out three neighbors -- Michael Carabotta, Art Susa and Jay Rushworth -- who helped the firefighters that night.

"It's good to know that there are still nice neighbors," she said. "Nowadays, with everybody so busy, you never think of your neighbors coming over and helping you out."

Several people from Mentor Fire Department pitched in that night, including, Firefighters Jerry Craddock, Rich Campola, Ed Budziak, Don Bednarik, Brian Edelman, Dan Kelly, Christian Lim, William Rivera, Dan Vozel, Tony Higginbotham, Frank Piazza and Nathan Peters, Lieutenants Paul D’Astolfo, Ron Zak, Clayton Sauberan and Rob Gandee, Deputy Chief Robert Searles and Chief Richard Harvey.

The Blare-Lukasiewicz family also met Thursday with Millard Woods, the dispatcher who took their call for help.

Mentor Police officers, as well as firefighters from Willoughby and Mentor-on-the-Lake, also helped on the call that night.

Daniel Vanderhoof Jr., 28, of Willoughby, is the man accused of crashing into the house.

He was arraigned on four charges of aggravated vehicular assault Monday in Mentor Municipal Court, as well as charges of drunken driving, driving without a license, reckless operation and fleeing the scene of a crash.

Police think both speed and alcohol contributed to the crash, Mentor Police Lt. Ken Zbiegien said. After the crash, instead of calling an ambulance or otherwise helping, Vanderhoof left and walked back to his house in Willoughby, police said.

His case has been bound over to the Lake County Court of Common Pleas.

Mentorite January 11, 2013 at 03:19 PM
It's nice to see that this family is healing.
Tonya blare January 13, 2013 at 08:50 PM
Thank you everyone for your support through these rough times.


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