Nine firefighters hurt in crash

March 19, 2009 8:14:41 PM PDT
A total of ten people, including nine firefighters and one civilian, were taken to area hospitals after a crash involving two fire trucks Thursday morning in Center City Philadelphia. One of the firefighters was trapped after the crash, and had to be cut out from his truck.

RELATED SLIDESHOW: Pictures from the scene of the crash

The crash happened at around 11:20 a.m. in the area of 8th Street and Lombard street.

The Philadelphia Fire Department says Ladder 9 and Squrt 43 were involved.

Five firefighters on the ladder truck and four firefighters on the engine truck were taken to three different hospitals.

The most seriously injured was Lieutenant Richard Prather of Ladder Company 9. He briefly lost consciousness, and had to be cut out of the truck. He was rushed to Jefferson Hospital and is expected to be released on Friday.

"I just left his side, he had regained consciousness and is in pretty good shape, talking to me, telling me 'Chief, is everybody else okay?'" said city Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.

One woman who was in a nearby store was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, described as being "shaken up."

Ladder 9 and Squrt 43 were dispatched from their station at 21st and Market to a report of a fire at 7th and Market.

Not needed, they were returning to the station when they were diverted to a fire call in the 2200 block of Wharton. They collided at 8th and Lombard.

Ladder 9 was travelling west on Lombard, Squrt 43 was going south on 8th when they crashed.

"We only know that they both, obviously, entered the intersection very closely at the same time and we had that type of an impact," Ayers said, who added they don't know yet who had the green light at the intersection.

A utility pole was brought down during the crash, and it took several hours to remove it from the crash scene.

The president of the firefighter's union, Brian McBride, blamed Philadelphia's controversial fire department cutbacks for today's crash, saying remaining units face more, and longer runs.

"They're sending them on long responses, that's more intersections they have to go through, the stress level is very high, adrenaline is flowing. It was only a matter of time, and it happened today," McBride said.

Commissioner Ayers promises a full investigation of this crash by both the fire department and the police department.

Below are the names of those firefighters involved in the accident.

Engine Company 43:

Lt Steve Kessler
FF Shawn Conway
FF Keith Davis
FF David Keller

Ladder Company 9:

Lt Richard Prather
FF Anthony Russell
FF Charles Green
FF James Hegarty
FF Donna Garrett

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