How the Rotary Craft Show saved a life

By on January 18, 2018

The Motz holiday lights display at their Laurel Avenue home drew huge crowds and raised $2,000 for the Lititz Fire Company. The opening night of the display also featured a Christmas concert by vocalist Judy Pancoast.

During the holidays, Rich and Wendy Motz were raising money for the Lititz Fire Company through their spectacular Laurel Avenue Christmas lights display.

They never imagined that the same volunteer fire company was about save their daughter-in-law’s life.

“It just goes to show that you don’t know when you’ll need the fire company. We are sure grateful they were there for us,” says Rich Motz.

On Nov. 13, Rich was getting ready to return a hydraulic lift he had borrowed from Bomberger’s Store. He had been using it to put up Santa’s chimney and other decorations on the rooftop for his gala display.

Then he got a call.

His daughter-in-law, Misty Motz, had been in a car accident that morning as she was making a left turn into work at her husband Greg’s office on Route 501 north of Lititz. It was right near Bomberger’s. Motz rushed to the accident scene to meet up with his son as the Lititz Fire Company was in the process of extricating Misty from her crumpled car.

The police report from the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police was dire:

Police responded to a reported crash with injuries in the 500 block of Furnace Hills Pike on Nov. 13. 911 Dispatch advised that there was an injured 32-year-old female driver trapped in her vehicle. The Lititz Fire Department and Warwick EMS were dispatched for rescue assistance. On the shoulder of the road in the southbound lane was a Nissan Sentra and Kenworth dump truck hauling a trailer loaded with a backhoe. The truck driver, Timothy Wise, 25, was traveling southbound on Furnace Hills Pike. He reported that he was looking down, adjusting instruments for his vehicle. When he looked up he saw a car stopped in the southbound lane waiting to turn left. Wise was unable to stop his truck, impacting the stopped car. Motz was extricated from her vehicle and taken to Lancaster General Hospital by Warwick EMS. Wise was issued a citation for careless driving.

Rich Motz with the lift provided by Bomberger’s Store. He was returning that lift on Nov. 13 when he received a call that his daughter-in-law was in a serious car accident near Bomberger’s.

It only took a few minutes to get Misty out of her mangled Sentra. In the back was her daughter’s car seat. The little girl was not in the car. Her mom had dropped her off at school earlier.

“Thank goodness our granddaughter wasn’t in the car,” says Rich. “And thank goodness for the fire company and all the emergency workers.”

The Motzes are also grateful for something called an AMKUS rescue system battery-operated cutter tool. That’s what the fire company used to cut through the framework of the Nissan in order to save Misty.

“It only took about two minutes,” says firefighter Kevin Ford, who was at the scene that day.

The cutter is like a huge pair of clippers that rips right through metal. In the past, it might have been called the Jaws of Life, but that term is outdated, and the steel used in cars has changed.

Before cars were built with extra safety features and reinforced with super tough boron steel, Jaws of Life tools could be used to pull a roof and framework apart. The type of boron steel used on many cars today has extremely high strength, four times higher than regular steel. It can’t be stretched apart, and ordinary cutters won’t get through boron steel.

Fortunately, the Lititz Fire Company had just received an $11,000 gift from the Lititz Rotary Club as part of the funds raised for community service through the annual Lititz Craft Show and the Travelogue film series. That money was earmarked for the cutter used on Nov. 13, a tool that Oettel had specially requested for the fire company.

“It was part of a package of three rescue tools, totaling $33,000,” says Oettel. “One was a hydraulic cutter, a hydraulic spreader, and the battery-operated cutter that we used that day.”

Profits from the big Rotary Craft Show held in August helped pay for the battery-powered cutter that the Lititz Fire Company used to save the life of Misty Motz.

Equipped with a battery pack, the cutter used to free Misty Motz does not require being hooked up to a hydraulic line. That makes it faster in cutting through the steel to get to the victim in what can be life-saving moments.

The moment Misty was released from her car, Warwick EMS was there to assess her condition and transport her to the trauma unit at LGH. According to her father-in-law, she suffered mostly head injuries and no broken bones. She has been recovering from her injuries and from her harrowing experience.

“I have to say that the way the fire company, the police and the emergency personnel treated Misty was exceptional. They really stepped up and we are so grateful,” says Rich. “The people of the Lititz and Warwick area should know how wonderful these people are. You never know when you will need them.”

Rich and Wendy Motz are pleased that their month-long Christmas light display at their Laurel Avenue home raised more than $2,000 for the Lititz Fire Company. They are looking forward to presenting that check later this month.

On Monday, the Motzes visited the Lititz Fire Company to express their thanks to some of the firefighters who helped rescue their daughter-in-law.

“All I can say is thank you. We are so grateful to you,” said Wendy. Both of the Motzes were amazed to see the tool that was used in the rescue.

Barry Miller of the Lititz Rotary Club is also impressed by the large cutter that the Rotary Club had funded for the fire company.

“That’s what the Lititz Rotary Club is all about. We raise money for community services in the Warwick area and throughout Lancaster County that affect local people,” he explained, noting that proceeds from the craft show and travelogue are approximately $75,000.

Rick and Wendy Motz recently visited with members of the Lititz Fire Company to thank them for extricating their daughter-in-law from a life-threatening vehicle accident on Nov. 13. Shown are (kneeling, left to right) volunteer firefighters John Shoultz and Kevin Ford; (standing, l-r) firefighters Steve Sweigart and Samuel Habbershon, Wendy Motz, Barry Miller of the Lititz Rotary Club, Rich Motz, and firefighter Matt Stevenson.

Last year, when the Rotary Club was determining where the funds would go, Oettel had a special request for equipment. The $11,000 battery-operated cutter was at the top of his list, and the Rotary Club quickly stepped up to fund it.

“It’s gratifying to realize the impact of this tool. Any of us could be in the same situation, and it means a lot to know the fire company has the dedicated people and equipment they need,” Miller said.

Oettel is grateful for the donation that allowed the fire company to purchase the rescue tools. He is a neighbor of the Motzes. He is also pleased that the Motzes designated the Lititz Fire Company to receive funds from the Laurel Avenue Lights display.

“I only wish that more people in Lititz would support the fire company,” he said. “We are here for them, and we need them to be here for us.”

Oettel reports that only 30 percent of Lititz residents make an annual contribution to the fire company. On average, those who contribute to the fire company give about $70. A handful of larger donations are the saving grace for the fire company, with some very generous people or businesses providing as much as $500 to $1,000.

“I almost feel guilty accepting these donations, because it’s not fair that they have to do it all themselves. Everyone needs to help, because we are here to serve everyone,” says Oettel. “If we could get that other 70 percent to donate, and get up to 100 percent participation, that would be great.”

The donation requests sent out to residents ask for $60 per family. Oettel reminds people that it doesn’t have to be $60, especially if everyone donated.

“If we had $10 or $20 from everyone, it would make a huge difference. All we ask is that you contribute what you can,” he said. “We are here for you.”

Rich and Wendy Motz and their family can attest to that.

As Motz notes, “You just never know when you will need help.”

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She can be reached at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *