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Beltway crash: Fire truck struck by tractor-trailer


Seven injured in Beltway accident that delayed commuters for hours

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Photo by Jim Davis. Four volunteer firefighters and three others were injured early Wednesday morning when a tractor -trailer struck a fire truck causing the fire truck, tractor-trailer and a SUV to overturn on the Capital Beltway near the exit for U.S. Route 50.

Photo by Jim Davis. Four volunteer firefighters and three others were injured early Wednesday morning when a tractor -trailer struck a fire truck causing the fire truck, tractor-trailer and a SUV to overturn on the Capital Beltway near the exit for U.S. Route 50.

Published on: Thursday, January 31, 2013

By Jim Davis

The arm of a 30-year-old volunteer firefighter was severed from the elbow down when the fire truck and a tractor-trailer crashed early Wednesday on the Capital Beltway near the Route 50 exit. The accident injured seven people and caused major delays for commuters in both directions throughout the day.

The firefighter, from West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George’s County, was transported to MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore to have his arm reattached. Three other volunteer firefighters were injured in the accident.

Around 2:50 a.m., the fire truck was making a U-turn on the Beltway at an emergency vehicle turnaround, when the tractor-trailer struck the fire engine, police officials said. The crash caused the fire truck, the tractor-trailer and an SUV to flip.

“We believe the fire engine was heading southbound … to make a U-turn at an emergency vehicle turnaround,” said Lt. Bill Alexander of Prince George’s County Police Department. “We believe that they slowed and were making that turn when they were struck from behind by the tractor-trailer.”

Photo by Erin Klema. Signs along the Capital Beltway warn drivers Wednesday morning to expect delays due to the crash near the U.S. Route 50 exit. Commuters were delayed in both directions on the Beltway.

Photo by Erin Klema. Signs along the Capital Beltway warn drivers Wednesday morning to expect delays due to the crash near the U.S. Route 50 exit. Commuters were delayed in both directions on the Beltway.

According to Alexander, the firefighters had responded to a minor crash to assist Maryland State Police. The fire engine arrived at the scene of that accident, firefighters quickly determined there were no injuries before heading back on the Beltway.

No charges have been filed, and police said the tractor-trailer driver was not at fault.

Volunteer firefighter Ryan Emmons underwent at least nine hours of delicate and intricate surgery to reattach his arm after it was severed from the elbow down. Dr. James Higgins, the head of the hand institute at MedStar Union Memorial, and his team were ready and waiting for Emmons after they got word he was headed their way. Higgins was one of the 16 surgeons who performed the first double-hand transplant in our area on Brendan Marrocco, an Iraq veteran who lost all four limbs.

At the crash site, paramedics quickly located Emmons’ dislodged arm and covered it with ice, which officials said helped make the surgery a success. However, the coming days are critical, officials added.

According to Fire Chief Marc Bashoor, the three other firefighters, the tractor-trailer driver, and the two people in the SUV were transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. Those injuries were not deemed life-threatening.

As of Wednesday night, the three firefighters — Jack Lescure, Mike Simmons and George Hirsch — were released from the hospital, a Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department official said.

Traffic on the Beltway was backed up for more than 14 hours Wednesday. Workers had to up right all three vehicles, unload the tractor-trailer, which was carrying rice, and remove equipment from the fire truck. At one point, traffic on the inner loop was backed up past the Baltimore Avenue exit, Maryland State Highway officials said. 

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