Pa. Crews Pull Off-Duty Comrades From Wreck


Two volunteer firefighters were hurt in a serious crash late Tuesday night, and some of the people who helped pull the two men from the wreckage were their fellow firefighters.

"They knew from my voice that we had a problem," Petrolia Fire Capt. Eugene Blair said. "Now, I didn't say who it was or what it was, but you react with a little bit of emotion."

Channel 4 Action News' Amber Nicotra reported that the crash happened about 11 p.m. on Kittanning Pike in Fairview Township, Butler County.

Nicotra reported that the victims -- Elmer Mitchell and Corey Plunkard -- are firefighters with the Petrolia Fire Department. One of the rescuers told Nicotra that he knew the crash was serious when he arrived at the scene and a colleague put his arm around him and said, "These are some of our own."

Police said the 40-year-old Mitchell lost control of the vehicle and hit an embankment before crashing into a utility pole, causing wires to fall on top of the vehicle.

Once rescuers managed to pull the men out of the vehicle, the 25-year-old Plunkard was flown to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. Mitchell was taken by ambulance to Butler Memorial Hospital before later being brought to UPMC Presbyterian as well.

Police said both men suffered head and back injuries and are in very serious condition.

"Hopefully, they'll come back. We're going to miss them. They're two active interior firefighters," Blair said.

The cause of the crash has not been determined but Nicotra reported investigators are looking at whether wet roads are to blame.

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