Saturday, January 15, 2005
By Jane Prendergast
Enquirer staff writer
SAYLER PARK – The driver of an ambulance hit by a train Friday may have had his view blocked by a fellow firefighter riding on the running board. No one inside the ambulance – two firefighters and a recruit – was seriously injured. They were treated at University Hospital and released. The firefighter on the running board jumped off before the accident.
The ambulance, with its lights and siren activated, was headed west on River Road about 10:45 a.m. to pick up a patient who was hurt by a piece of equipment at a grain company. Veteran firefighter Joe Eves, 49, the driver, turned left off River Road and up onto the railroad tracks. Firefighter Paul Mapes, who had arrived at the scene on a fire engine, stepped onto the driver’s-side running board as the ambulance headed toward the plant. A police report said Mapes was conferring with the driver just before the train hit. District Chief Alan Sedam, who answered questions at the scene, said later he had to refer further questions to Chief Robert Wright.
The chief could not be reached for comment. Union spokesman Doug Stern said the union would wait for results of the investigation before talking about any possible causes. “We just really don’t know what happened yet,” he said. The tracks run parallel to River Road. The crossing is marked with signs but has no gates. “It’s amazing no one’s hurt worse than they are,” said Joe Diebold, union president. “I’m just glad for that.” The firefighters wore seat belts, he said. The recruit, Fred Averill, 33, who was sitting in the back of the ambulance, started at the fire academy last month. Recruits routinely ride as part of their training, Diebold said. Firefighter Mark Dolan, 38, also was treated. The three men on the 1969 locomotive also were hurt. The engine is owned by Indiana & Ohio Railroad. The ambulance will be checked for malfunctions, said traffic Sgt. Bill Coombs. The patient at Cargill AgHorizons farm service center was treated by other firefighters and taken to a hospital