SIMPSON, Pa. — On Sunday, ATV riders on their way to a fundraiser to benefit a volunteer fire company were blocked by police, who ordered the vehicles to be towed away.
Members of the Grattan Singer Hose Company in Fell Township hoped an ATV fundraiser would bring in big bucks, but nearly half the riders expected didn't show.
The fundraiser was to raise money for Grattan Singer and Northern Wayne Fire Company. Members of those hose companies say they expected about 500 riders for the event. Some people brought their machines by trailer; others were riding them from nearby to the fire company.
That's when police in neighboring Carbondale Township stopped about a dozen ATVs from making it to the event along Linda Lane.
Riders say they usually take this road to get to the trail system that sits behind the fire company.
Carbondale Township police had the ATVs towed anywhere the owners wanted except for the fundraiser.
When other riders heard about this, some decided not to attend the fundraiser at all.
Members of the fire company say they potentially lost more than $7,000 in revenue to go towards keeping the fire company up and running, but they were more upset by the actions of the neighboring township's police department.
"We're all supposed to be brothers and sisters in first response. We're supposed to have each other's backs, and that was probably the hardest," said Michael Skasko, Grattan Singer hose Company EMS captain. "All of our utilities, everything in the building, the township has helped us very graciously with the trucks and stuff like that, but the utilities, training, gear, that comes out of the funds of the station.
Larry Totaro and Mike Wagner run Champions Recovery & Investigations. They were one of the tow companies called to remove the ATVs. Wagner says they felt stuck in a tough position but wanted to help the ATV owners.
"We don't want to back out. we Want to go and provide a service, good service, minimal dollars, just to cover a few dollars for fuel," Wagner said.
Other people whose vehicles were towed by other companies said they, too, received a break on the towing fee. Everyone we spoke with says they hope the ride will be held again next year with a little more cooperation.
"Maybe the police will get involved, the firefighters, any other EMS or volunteers who want to partake, provide them with a way to get to this event safely and not be towed for it," Tortaro said.
"We're definitely going to do it again next year. We'll just preplan a little bit better and see what we can come up with," Skasko added.
The Carbondale Township Police chief said, "The fundraiser was based around drinking and driving, and the department can't condone those actions. The department had incidents recently that we've needed to crack down on riders causing problems. It's also a dangerous place to cross as well."
People who had their ATVs towed said they weren't issued citations but did have to pay for the tow.
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