ITHACA, N.Y. — A 54-year-old man is reportedly in critical condition after a two-car crash Thursday afternoon at the intersection of Lower Creek Road and Route 13 in Dryden. New York State Police credit Ithaca Police Chief Pete Tyler, who was first on the scene, with saving the man’s life.

The crash occurred at about 2:40 p.m., according to New York State Police. Chief Pete Tyler was in the area at the time and said when he heard the call come in, he was able to get there quickly. Initially, the call came in as a head-on collision with fire. When he arrived on scene, Tyler said he noticed bystanders frantically waving him over. The man was still in his car, which had gone into a ditch, and was not responding at all, Tyler said.

Tyler, who is also an EMT and volunteer with the Dryden Fire Department, said he was able to stabilize the man’s neck and pull him out of the car with help from a bystander and he started working to get the man breathing. When state police and emergency responders from Dryden Ambulance and Varna Fire Department, they assisted to stabilize the man.

A fast response was “critical in this situation because his airway was compromised,” Tyler said.

The man was taken by Dryden Ambulance to the Ithaca airport where he was then flown by helicopter to Upstate Medical Center, where he currently remains in critical condition, state police said as of Thursday evening.

The driver of the other vehicle was a 24-year-old woman from Dryden. Police said she is pregnant and was taken to Cayuga Medical Center as a precautionary measure. Her car was on fire after the crash and a trooper used two fire extinguishers to put out the fire as the Varna Fire Department arrived on scene.

Tyler said there was good teamwork on the scene and said he was fortunate to be in the area at the time.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing. However, police so far said they have determined that the man was stopped facing north at the intersection of Route 13 and Lower Creek Road and failed to yield the right of way to the other vehicle when turning left. He was also not wearing a seatbelt, police said.

The road was partially closed for about an hour.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.