As investigators dissect the crash of a firetruck yesterday that injured eight people -- four Columbus firefighters and four others inside a Clintonville bar -- the key issue will be the vehicle's speed.
"That's going to be the question of the day,'' Columbus police investigator David Cornute said.
The ladder truck went out of control as it headed west on Arcadia Avenue and turned south onto N. High Street. It rolled onto its side in the intersection, then slid into Patrick J's Bar & Grille, 2711 N. High St., upside down.
The cab of the 70-ton truck barged through the north wall of the bar, sending tables, chairs, cinder blocks, liquor bottles and patrons flying.
"It sounded like a dam burst,'' said John Logue, 52, who was eating a Greek salad inside. "All this glass and concrete came flying at me. I had no idea what it was. Then I got knocked down. There was a lot of hysteria.''
Daniel Toki, 19, was one of about 20 people inside the building. He was playing video games with his brother.
"I heard the sirens and then a big smash,'' Toki said. "I thought it was a bomb.''
His brother, Travis, 22, had deep cuts on his arms and back and went to an urgent-care facility for treatment.
A relative, Dorothy Toki, 42, was sitting near the front of the building and also was injured. She was in stable condition at Ohio State University Medical Center last night.
Cecil Beasley was in the restroom when the building shook. He thought the roof was caving in.
"That's as close to hell as I've ever been,'' Beasley, 50, said.
Among those taken to hospitals were the four crew members on the truck: Lt. Rick Conti and firefighters Andy Trott, John Vacheresse and Dennis Hammond.
Trott, 30, a seven-year veteran, was driving the truck. Hammond, 35, a three-year employee, was serving as the tillerman -- the person who drives the rear of the vehicle. Hammond was in serious condition at Riverside Methodist Hospitals last night.
Conti, 41, was in fair condition at OSU Medical Center with a broken leg. Trott and Vacheresse, 36, were treated at Riverside and released.
A bar patron -- an unidentified woman -- was in poor condition at Riverside and bartender Charles "Adam'' Breakiron, 28, was treated for cuts that he suffered when liquor bottles shattered around him. He was in stable condition at Riverside.
The crew of Ladder 13 was responding to a 5:45 p.m. fire alarm at 209 W. 18th Ave. on campus when it slammed into the bar three minutes after leaving the fire station on Arcadia Avenue.
The truck was a reserve vehicle, put into service yesterday so that Ladder 13 could undergo routine maintenance, Battalion Chief Mark Devine said.
Crew members inspected it and went for a test drive, Devine said.
Some witnesses said it appeared that the truck was traveling too fast to make the 90-degree turn off the steep Arcadia hill. Others said the truck was swerving to avoid a car that had ignored the truck's siren.
Devine said the firefighters on the truck are veterans.
"The guy who was driving probably has taken this hill 500 times,'' he said. "They take this hill 10 times a day.''
A fire lieutenant familiar with the intersection said it's a dangerous one.
The turn onto High Street from Arcadia Avenue should be taken at speeds of no more than 20 mph, he said.
"You're coming down the hill and you've got nowhere to go,'' said the lieutenant who asked not to be named.
Witnesses said they saw Hammond crawl from the back of the flipped truck and drag himself several yards to the White Castle drive-through lane.
"His mouth and face were bloodied. He told people then to go see if everyone inside was OK,'' said Chris Gonzalez, 14, who saw the crash from across the street.
Late last night, hundreds of people gathered in the parking lots of the nearby White Castle and KFC restaurants to watch as heavy-duty tow trucks pulled out the firetruck.
There was concern that when the truck was taken out, Patrick J's would collapse, but it remained standing early this morning.
Patrick J's owner, Jon Raphael, rushed to the bar immediately after the accident and quickly assessed damage.
"We're really fortunate,'' he said of the injuries. "We can replace everything else.''
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07-16-2002, 09:18 AM #1
Columbus Ladder 13 Careens into Restaurant
Last edited by tyler101; 07-16-2002 at 09:21 AM.
07-16-2002, 10:39 AM #2
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Thanks Tyler, for the extra info. The report on the homepage was kinda sketchy. The picture is particularly graphic. From the report, I thought the truck was just on its side, I see from the photo that it rolled onto its back. THAT TAKES A LOT OF FORCE to make that happen.
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07-16-2002, 10:58 AM #3
It made the local news here. I was surprised when I noticed it was a tiller. Really hard to roll one of those. Kudos to the tillerman for worrying about the boys before himself.
Sure is fun to drive the back of those things though!
Last edited by firemangeorge; 07-16-2002 at 11:02 AM.See You At The Big One
07-16-2002, 11:07 AM #4Steve Gallagher
"I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes
07-16-2002, 04:52 PM #5
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More info from WCMH:
Columbus police and fire officials held a press conference Tuesday afternoon and said that the accident was a result of equipment failure. The brakes on the firetruck did not respond, NewsChannel 4's Larry Roberts reported.
Battalion Chief Mark Devine said at the conference that his crew knew 1,000 feet up the hill they were going to crash. He said that they had to make choices and they knew there were businesses and a ravine at the end of the hill.
Devine said that his crew decided that they would try to make the left turn.
According to the official Columbus police accident report, the driver of the firetruck was turning westbound on Arcadia Avenue when he was unable to slow down to make the left turn on North High Street.
Roberts reported that the firetruck the crew was riding in was a replacement truck put into service Monday while repairs were being made to the other big rig.
Devine said that the replacement truck was inspected, but he is unsure whether the brakes were tested.
07-16-2002, 10:42 PM #6
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Firefighters on a truck that rolled over
and crashed into a restaurant claim that the truck's brakes failed,
investigators said Tuesday.
At least seven people, including four firefighters, were injured
in the crash Monday night. One was in serious condition Tuesday.
Fire investigators were looking into the firefighters' claim,
department spokeswoman Kelly McGuire said.
The ladder truck slid into Patrick J's Bar and Grille about 5:30
p.m. Monday as it responded to a reported fire at Ohio State
University, McGuire said.
The cab of the 70-ton truck went through the north end of the
bar, sending tables, chairs, cinder blocks and liquor bottles
McGuire said there was no fire at Ohio State. The call was
blamed on a faulty alarm.
One restaurant patron, Dorothy Toki, 42, was in serious
condition Tuesday at Ohio State University Medical Center.
Two firefighters and a restaurant patron were in fair condition
at Riverside Methodist Hospital and Ohio State University Medical
Center. Two firefighters and a bartender were treated at the
hospitals and released.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated PressProudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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07-24-2002, 01:12 AM #7
little info on the truck in question...
the rig was carrying the ID of XLadder 33. It was recently placed in reserve status following it's second life as a front line company. the rig, an LTI, saw service first at Ladder 8 in downtown Columbus, then as Ladder 23 in the eastern part of the city- both busy companies in their own right...
there has been some discussion about the company also having some difficulty with the rig- Ladder 13 is normally assigned one of the new 2001 ALF tandem axle tiller rigs....but the general thought here is that the brakes failed...the LT and tillerman are both still hospitalized- Ladder 13 is running an extra sutphen midmount tower- the one they had before they got the new ALF....
08-14-2002, 02:20 PM #8
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- Jun 2002
Police clear driver of firetruck
Accident report blames malfunctioning brakes for July crash into tavern
Wednesday, August 14, 2002
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
A police accident report supports Columbus firefighters' statements that the brakes failed on their 35-ton ladder truck before it crashed into a tavern, injuring nine people.
The probe cleared the driver, firefighter Andy Trott, of any traffic violations in connection with the July crash of ladder truck XL33 into Patrick J's Bar & Grille.
According to the summary from the lead police detective, accident investigators concluded there was a "mechanical malfunction.''
"It was determined the truck had a diminished braking capacity. It was also determined that the vehicle would not have been capable of stopping, given the circumstances that existed at the time of the crash,'' accident investigator David Cornute wrote.
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