By: Wayne Engle
Courier Staff Writer
Heavy damage of more than $100,000 resulted to a Hanover Volunteer Fire Department rescue truck early Sunday morning when it went out of control and overturned down an embankment on State Road 56 near the top of the Hanover Hill.
The only injury caused by the crash appeared to be minor. Hanover Fire Chief Jim Boldery said today that luck played a big part in several ways in the accident.
Hanover first responders Howard D. Duane Miller, 59, of 270 Main Cross St., Hanover, and Ronald A. Bennett Sr., 39, 555 Hickory Drive, Hanover, had responded to a call about an ill person in Paynesville. The Kings Daughters Hospital EMS paramedic who accompanied the ambulance squad to the scene rode back in the ambulance, so the two Hanover first responders brought the paramedics vehicle back to the hospital, then set out to return to Hanover with Miller driving the rescue truck.
Miller later told Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Morey Nay, who investigated, that he was driving the rescue truck, a red, 1999 International Lodestar model, up Hanover Hill at about 12:45 a.m. Sunday. Near the intersection with S.R. 256, Miller said, the right rear tires of the rescue truck slipped off the roadway on the right side.
Miller said he tried to steer the vehicles rear tires back onto the roadway, but they caught against the edge of the road, causing the vehicle to veer to the left and cross all the lanes of travel on the multilane highway. It traveled off the roadway on the left side and plunged over a 25- to 30-foot embankment, overturning onto its side.
Bennett used the trucks two-way police radio to notify the sheriffs department of the accident. The written accident report said that Bennett complained of back pain. Boldery said when he talked to him today Bennett said he was sore all over but thinks he will be all right.
The two men crawled out a window of the wrecked truck and up the bank to safety, Boldery said.
They were an extremely lucky two guys, Boldery said. That (rescue truck) is the main heart of our fire department. It carries our Jaws of Life, our air supply for refilling air bottles (used by firefighters when they have to enter burning buildings), lights for nighttime fire scenes, first responder equipment and so forth.
He said the fire departments insurance should cover the damage. We pay big, but now we need it, Boldery said.
He said Miller and Bennett were very lucky in that the truck shot across the four-lane highway when no other vehicle was coming south, thus avoiding some type of a collision, and that when it went down the embankment, it was halted by a large utility pole and a large rock, which stopped it from plunging even farther.
Boldery said there was another, unexplained occurrence at the scene.
There was a man standing on the side of the road, down (south) from where it happened. Just standing there, watching them go by. The Hanover EMTs said they saw him, and two witnesses the police later interviewed said they saw him, too.
He said once the accident occurred, the man was not seen again. Ill bet hes still running, Boldery said.