Courtesy of The Daily Advance Elizabeth City, North Carolina
June 2, 2004
The Providence Volunteer Fire Department lost its fire engine Tuesday when it overturned on Berea Church Road while responding to a two-car traffic accident. Jimmy Harris, chief of the PVFD, said the two firefighters on board were transported from the scene to Albemarle Hospital, but that their injuries were minor. He said he didn’t know if the nine-year-old fire pumper is salvageable. To replace it, he said, would cost about $200,000. State Trooper J.S. Hardison, who investigated, said the accident occurred when the fire engine’s back right tire left the right side of pavement and slid into the ditch. For 40 yards, driver Leonard Overton, 24, fought to keep the sloshing, 1,000-gallon pumper on the road leaving S-shaped stripes of tire rubber leading to where the engine lay on its side. Hardison said the tracks left by the tires are yaw marks different from skid marks because the pattern of the treads is visible. They indicate that Overton never locked the brakes. Skids marks leave a solid black line, Hardison said. Overton steered hard left to get the fire pumper back on the road, then hard right to keep it from going off the other side, then hard left again. In the middle of the last hard right, four yaw marks draw close together where Hardison said the engine started to go up on its side. The next time the engine went off road it took out four mailboxes, clipped a paved driveway spanning the ditch on the right, flipped twice, throwing off its water tank, turned around to face the way it came and slid on its side until its fiberglass hood snagged on a utility pole, Hardison said. When rescue workers arrived, Overton had his arm out the passenger window, pinned under the side-mirror. They dug his arm free with their hands then pulled Overton and Junior Firefighter Jimmie McGee, 18, out a hole in the front windshield. Both firefighters were restrained on back-boards before being driven to the hospital by ambulance. McGee had a cut hand and neck. Overton complained about soreness in his shoulder. Both were released from the hospital Tuesday evening. Overton’s brother, Leroy, drives a tow truck and was on his way to the scene of the first, two-car accident when he came upon his brother’s wrecked fire engine. He said his brother loves being a firefighter even though it means exposing himself to danger. The two-car accident, about four hundred yards past the site of the wrecked engine, was minor. “It was a side-swipe,” Harris said. “They knocked each others side views off.” At the site of the fire engine accident, the road was splattered with fire-fighting foam and littered with hoses, pieces of shattered emergency lights, a bent ladder and other debris. The Elizabeth City Fire Department is loaning PVFD an engine until the county unit gets a replacement. “We will have the equipment to fight fires with,” said PVFD Assistant Chief Bud Cuthrell.