Newark Advocate Sunday-12-26-04
NEWARK — A Newark firefighter is in serious condition and one other remains hospitalized after two fire trucks collided on West Church Street on Saturday afternoon. The trucks were en route to a house fire call on Carriage Court when they smashed into each other. The fire call turned out to be a false alarm.
Wayne Stover was in his nearby apartment when the vehicles collided.
“I didn’t see it, but I heard it. It was like an explosion. Those guys got banged up pretty good,” he said, with his shirt still bloodied from helping the injured firefighters.
Newark Rescue 1 was traveling westbound on Church Street at the same time Engine 3 was traveling on northbound Fifth Street, Newark police stated.
A combination of icy streets, inability to hear the other vehicle’s sirens because of their own, and a blind spot created by an apartment building at the intersection that lies close to the road, prevented the drivers from seeing each other until it was too late.
Rescue 1 spun 90 degrees and came to a stop in the middle of the intersection, and Engine 3 spun 180 degrees, finally stopping in the side yard of the old Newark Library building.
“The one guy (Engine 3) tried to stop; I could hear his tires on the ice,” said Henry Gillett, who saw the wreck from his apartment, peering out his window when he first heard the sirens coming. “He tried to slow down, but he couldn’t stop fast enough.”
Firefighter Kyle Bookless, the driver of Rescue 1, was taken by emergency medical helicopter to Grant Medical Center for emergency surgery, where he was in serious condition Saturday night. Rescue 1’s rear passenger, John Kollar, was also flown to Grant, where he was in fair condition Saturday, according to Newark police.
Four other firefighters, Capt. Tom O’Brien, Kelly Smith, Neal Murphy and Ernest Green, were all treated and released from Licking Memorial Hospital.
The front end of Rescue 1 was left mangled, and Rescue 3 had a severely damaged right side. The department is now without three rescue trucks — its tower ladder is away for repairs until January in addition to the two smashed on Saturday. Newark City Safety Director Kathleen Barch was in Cincinnati Saturday, but left and went to Grant Medical after learning of the wreck. Fire Chief Jack Stickradt was in Florida, and Barch said he was making arrangements to fly back when he found out. Many onlookers came to the scene, and most were left stunned, as an eerie silence spread among the spectators when they saw what had happened. Firefighters and police investigators remained at the scene well after dark to salvage equipment from the destroyed vehicles and piece together evidence from what happened. The accident remains under investigation by the Newark Police Department.