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Woman, kittens stuck in a car? Best assignment ever.

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Brittany Wilson saw it first.

We have a variety of tasks on the Friday morning shift, and one of them is checking the online incident status report from York County Control.

On this fateful Friday, Brittany, our Neighbors/Weekly Record/web copy editor, was scanning the log, and her eye landed on a rescue along Route 30 in Manchester Township. Eleven units had been called to respond. Eleven units is a lot.

We wondered aloud if it might be some kind of crash or an incident involving the high tension power lines in the area. I called the non-emergency line at York County Control to find out.

Our theories were quickly dispelled. Even the notoriously unenthusiastic dispatcher who answers the phones on Friday couldn’t help but laugh when I asked about the rescue. It turned out a woman had caught her hand in the hood of her car, and crews had freed her. She put it in there looking for cats, the dispatcher said.

I turned around and told Brittany she wasn’t going to believe it.

“How do you get your hand stuck in the hood of you car?” Brittany asked.

“I’m briefing it,” I replied laughing. Any story that includes the kicker, “The status of the cats could not be confirmed,” deserves to be written.

A short time later the news desk got a call from our Managing Editor Randy Parker. He was on his way to the newsroom and saw some firefighters working in the area of the cat incident. Somehow, they hadn’t cleared the scene. Curious, I grabbed a notebook and headed out.

Behold the box-o-cats.

What I saw when I arrived was, well, bizarre.

Firefighters were swarming around a vehicle, alright, but it wasn’t just some car. It was an SUV marked with the logo of Manchester Township Deputy Chief Joe Madzelan.

Perplexed, I crept closer, waiting to be brushed back. But no one said anything, and before long I was close enough to see a blast of compressed air from a canister scare a writhing, snarling kitten into the arms of a firefighter. He promptly stuffed it into a box.

I looked around confused. How the heck did the cat get into the deputy chief’s car?

As it turned out, the kitten was the last of three that were rescued from the car of Courtney Riegen. Riegen had been driving to York from Lancaster when she heard the cats crying in her engine. She stopped the car at the Manchester Crossroads parking lot to take a closer look, and in the process slammed her own hand in the hood of the car.

That’s when the emergency crews were called. First they rescued Riegen. Then they rescued the cats.

Courtney Riegen and her supervisor watch as crews seal a box containing three cats removed from Riegen's car.

I’m an occasional police beat reporter at best,  but I’ve never seen such amusement on the faces on an emergency crew. Officials in the line of duty are seldom happy to see me, but Madzelan laughed as he stepped over to talk.

He walked me though the incident, plucking cat hair off of his black shirt as we spoke. I couldn’t help but crack a smile. “Is this one of the weirder incidents you’ve responded to,” I asked.

“We’ve had cats in engine compartments, but usually not after they’ve been driving for a while,” he said.

And Riegen’s car was so small. It made for a difficult rescue, Madzelan said.

I stood and watched in amazement as the crew packed up around me, literally loading a box full of cats back into the car they had just removed them from.  Better yet, Riegen was also willing to talk. Despite being a bit bloodied and splinted, she too saw the humor in the whole thing.

What a golden story. I couldn’t ask for anything more from a Friday morning cops shift.

Major props to Brittany Wilson.