By Kelly Matter
FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Florence Officials confirm an ambulance and pick-up truck were involved in a crash Wednesday morning on Church Street at 5:02 a.m. Three people were sent to the hospital for treatment. The driver of the pick-up truck, an employee for a Pamplico-based lumber company who was driving a company vehicle, was charged with DUI and driving on a suspended license, officials confirmed.
Public Information Officer Billy C. Hatchell said crews were responding to an emergency call when the crash took place. Florence County EMS ambulances transported a total of three people from the scene to an area hospital, including the two medics.
Two of those transported by ambulance had non-life threatening injuries and the other, an EMS employee, suffered serious and potentially life-threatening injuries.
The ambulance was not carrying any patients at the time of the incident.
Authorities say the two medics were responding to an emergency call and had just a few hours left of their shift when they were hit almost head on.
"When I got on scene and saw the accident, it took my breath away," Hatchell said.
Major Carlos Raines with the City of Florence Police said the male driver of the pick-up truck, 45-year-old Jody Lynn Heglar, from Norwood, NC, was released from the hospital, and was charged with felony DUI and driving under a suspended license. Heglar works for Barry White Logging out of Pamplico, South Carolina, and was driving a company truck at the time of the accident, Raines said.
"What happened this morning is a reminder that there is no such thing as a routine day at EMS," EMS Director Ryon Watkins said. "These folks were on their way to help someone one minute, and they were in need of help literally just a few seconds later."
The accident is currently under investigation by the City of Florence Police Department and the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Authorities say the paramedic seriously injured in the crash needs all the help she can get.
"She's been here a long time, and she's a valued employee," Hatchell said. "We love her to death...the type of person that if you see her on scene, you know you're in good hands."
While she has not been identified, authorities say the paramedic was a 20-year veteran of EMS.
Hearing about their co-worker's pain has taken a toll on others who work in Emergency Management Services.
"You can see it on their face, that every one is very, very concerned," Hatchell said. "Everyone's very upset, and they're scared for our employee that's sitting in the hospital right now, who's hurt really bad."
However, some say knowing someone is being held accountable for the incident has brought some peace of mind.
"It won't be closure until we know how our paramedic does," Hatchell said. "We know it wasn't their fault. They were doing their job. They were doing what they were suppose to do, and someone else caused this."
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