There’s an international twist to today’s 26th annual Menlo Park and Ripon Police Emergency Vehicle show and Police Recruitment Fair taking place at the Ripon Community Center.
Two German citizens are entering the event with used police cars they have purchased for shipment to Germany.
The show also marks the return of a woman who had a cardiac arrest during the event’s emergency vehicle parade on Ripon streets seven years ago and was saved by first responders led by Ripon Police Officer Steven Meece.
San Jose firefighter Mark Hathaway was also at the community center preparing for the show when he met her again Friday night. He was one of the responders who had rushed to her aid.
The Germans said they were in the U.S. to buy historic cars when they heard of the Ripon event. They purchased two former Chevrolet Caprice police vehicles to enter in the show – one in Oregon and the other in the Bay Area.
The woman who suffered the cardiac arrest – Ruth Wick, 49, of Hemet – said she was driving a retired emergency vehicle in the parade when she was stricken and crashed through the bedroom wall of a home near the corner of Fourth Avenue and Linda Street.
She said she owed her life to the first responders who came to her aid and zapped her with an Automatic Emergency Defibrillator (AED) seven times before they got a pulse. Then at Doctors Hospital in Manteca her heart stopped again, she said, and medical personnel there used an AED a second time. She now has a pacemaker that was inserted under her skin and has been healthy ever since, she added.
“That’s why I am back here in Ripon today,” she said, “because they carry AEDs in their police cars.”
More than 90 emergency vehicles were pre-registered for the Saturday show, according to its organizer, retired Menlo Park officer Darryl Lindsey.
He said that number will grow today with same-day registration.
Vehicles are coming from as far away as Los Angeles and Fallon, Nevada as well as the two men from Germany
The two Germans noted that old police vehicles are a hot commodity in their country. Some collectors even seek out police uniforms to represent the U.S. agencies that had the vehicles in service.
One of the two German citizens is Rudi Lotz was a former water police officer and became a collector in his own right. Most of the cars being shipped to Germany are of an early ’90s vintage with some being sought from Craigslist. The German citizens have mostly chosen the Caprice as their car of choice.
Lotz’s partner is Soenke Priebe, a master of law, who takes care of the logistics and shipping of the cars they buy back to Germany. Lotz said he locates the cars and Priebe does the rest.
Lotz added that it is fun to drive an American police car in Germany. He remembers starting out collecting police badges and shoulder patches that evolved into full sized police vehicles over the last 20 years.
As for the cars and their restoration, he tries to keep only one or two at a time not to upset the family routine, he chuckled.
Priebe describes his business as building old school customs as “Classic American Muscle Cars.” He currently owns some 25 cars – all Caprices – from New York, Michigan, the Bay Area and Arizona.
“I have a V-6 Caprice and no one believes it was ever made – the only V-6 I have ever seen I got it in Upstate New York. They didn’t make too many,” he said. Priebe lives near Stutgaart, Germany.
Lotz comes from a region near Frankfurt.
The men spoke perfect English, saying they were taught from a young age – in about the fourth grade.
The car owners and event coordinators all drove to dinner at 6 p.m. with red lights flashing as they drove through Ripon residential areas finally arriving at the Sonic Drive-In Restaurant near the Highway 99 northbound onramp. As they neared the restaurant, the line of emergency vehicles activated their sirens to alert their coming and drove into the parking lot.
Asked where they planned to park, Lindsey smiled broadly and said, “Wherever we want.”
Lindsey added that the police recruitment fair will see some 15 to 20 law enforcement agencies attempting to find officers to add to their departments’ numbers.
Those emergency vehicles included two full-sized fire trucks. There will be another red light parade at the conclusion of the show at about 2 p.m. today. The show opens at 8 a.m. this morning and will run until about 2:30 p.m..