Rescue gone wrong leads local man to arrest

PORTAGEVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — When one local man became stuck under a lawnmower, first responders weren’t the only ones to offer a helping hand. Officials say an unqualified person offered to help and wound up running the man over even more.

Police say they were called to the scene of a man who had his leg pinned underneath a lawnmower which was turned off. A resident of Portageville in Wyoming County reportedly was attempting to free his mower from being stuck when it pinned his foot down. In addition to calling for police help, he shouted for a neighbor.

Christopher R. Ratcliffe, 31, responded to the man’s vocalizations for help and told him he was a government rescue worker. Police say in addition to explaining his alleged government position, he brought his SUV — which was unregistered and not inspected — to attempt to tow the lawnmower off the trapped resident.

The idea went bust when police say Ratcliffe hit the gas while still drive, when he was attempting to reverse. The momentum from the gas pushed the SUV over an embankment and pulled the lawnmower even more over the trapped man.

First responders hit the scene soon after and saved the man from being fully trapped underneath the lawnmower. He was rushed to a local hospital and treated, then released, for his injuries.

Ratcliffe was arrested soon after police learned his vehicle was not up to code. Police say they also learned he had six active suspensions on his driver’s license. Police charged him with second degree aggravated unlicensed operation, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, uninspected motor vehicle and unregistered vehicle. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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