Pa. Woman Shocked by Bill After Car Wreck

IRWIN, Pa. --

A woman involved in a car accident told Channel 4 Action News that she couldn't believe it when she received a bill from emergency responders for a "crash tax."

Paula Callahan said her car was totaled after she got into an accident while pulling out from the Dunkin' Donuts on Route 30 in Irwin.

Callahan said she suffered only minor injuries, but was surprised when she received a bill from the Irwin Fire Department for $1,576 to cover costs for responding to the accident.

"I was floored. First of all, what broom costs $50? Shovel $50?" said Callahan of the charges she was assessed.

Callahan said she was also charged $175 for traffic cones.

"I think that's outrageous. It's a volunteer fire department. They show up at the scene whether you call them or not," said Callahan.

Irwin Fire Chief Justin Mochar told Team 4's Paul Van Osdol that "the $50 for shovels comes prorated. I mean, obviously, if you break equipment it needs replaced."

Mochar continued, "It's a shock at first, but as you can see, I can point you to that truck. That truck is $1.2 million with all the equipment on it."

Most insurance companies, including Callahan's, don't cover the cost.

"I'd like to see this practice stopped," said Callahan.

Van Osdol reported that the Fire Department does not currently have the power to take Callahan to court to pay the bill.

Copyright 2010 by ThePittsburghChannel. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.