Five Firefighters Injured in Chicago Engine Crash

A fire engine and a car collided, sending the fire engine careening into a nearby building.


CHICAGO, Ill. -- Seven people were hurt, five of them Chicago firefighters, when a fire engine and a car collided at Division and Wells Streets, sending the fire engine careening into a nearby building.

The accident occurred at about 3:15 p.m. Thursday, as light rain fell at the intersection. Fire Department Engine 4 had been sent from its quarters, at Division and Larrabee Streets, to provide assistance to someone was having trouble breathing, backing up paramedics who also were en route.

Eyewitness Kathy Barthold said a tan Toyota Corolla, going southbound on Wells, struck the eastbound fire truck, which then careened into the Division Court Condominiums, on the southeast corner of the intersection.

The Corolla came to rest alongside the fire truck, which sustained heavy damage to its cab.

Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said firefighters in the cab were fortunate in that the cab struck the northwest corner of the building squarely in the middle of the cab, so that the worst of the damage missed the driver and the firefighter across from him.

"Nobody was looking at bricks hitting them in the face," he said. "They were very fortunate."

He said the engine's siren and emergency lights were switched on when the accident occurred.

Langford said the five firefighters on board Engine 4, the woman driving the Corolla and her six-year-old passenger all wore seat belts.

As a result, he said, the injuries were minor. Barthold said she observed one firefighter being taken away with a neck brace, and said the woman appeared to be bleeding as helped into an ambulance.

The injured were taken to three nearby hospitals. Three firefighters were taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital, two firefighters and the woman to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and the girl to Children's Memorial Hospital. Those taken to Illinois Masonic were expected to be held overnight for observation.

Flames erupted from beneath the engine, but Langford said the firefighters at the scene doused the flames within moments.

Langford said a Chicago Police surveillance camera is mounted at the intersection and caught the accident on tape.

Personnel from the Police Department Major Accident Investigations Unit will review the video to see if a citation is warranted.

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Republished with permission of WBBM Radio.