Firefighters battle bullet-proof glass to get to armored car driver

2014-01-31T13:40:00Z 2014-02-01T13:56:07Z Firefighters battle bullet-proof glass to get to armored car driverStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
January 31, 2014 1:40 pm  • 

LAPORTE | It took about 10 minutes of striking the bullet-proof glass on an armored car with an ax to reach a driver who had gone into cardiac arrest and then crashed.

John Vida, 59, of North Liberty was unresponsive and despite efforts at reviving him, never showed signs of life.

"I believe this gentleman was dead the minute he lost control of the vehicle," said LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan.

About 11 a.m., emergency responders were called to an ATM belonging to Horizon Bank at Pine Lake Avenue and Polk Street in LaPorte.

Police said a LaPorte police officer found Vida slumped over the steering wheel of a Brink's truck, which arrived to refill the ATM.

The driver's foot then slipped off the brake pedal and the armored car began moving.

The Brink's truck rolled across Polk Street hitting the side of a Ford Taurus parked outside Anderson's Automotive.

"It was just creeping across," said Jim Anderson, owner of the mechanic shop.

Both doors to the cab were locked and a second employee riding in the back did not have any keys, which is standard procedure to help safeguard against any robbery attempt.

"They don't have access to each other," said Sullivan.

Not having keys left firefighters who never had to break into an armored car before kind of puzzled with Vida still appearing lifeless.

One of the firefighters with every ounce of his strength kept hitting the seemingly unbreakable side door glass with an ax that had a pointed end, Sullivan said.

Finally, Sullivan said a hole was created large enough to insert the claws of the jaws of life, which is powered by an engine that even strained to spread apart the several inch thick glass.

"We didn't know if we were going to get it," said Sullivan, who is also a LaPorte firefighter.

LaPorte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said at least his crew now knows how to break into an armored car if such a rare occurrence ever happens again.

"They definitely had to put some effort behind it to get into it," said Snyder.

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