New Jersey Fire Truck Plunges Down Embankment

Four New Jersey firefighters were hurt yesterday when a fire truck slid off a narrow road into a ditch after the driver pulled over to make room for a passing school bus.

The Medford Township truck rolled onto its side, leaving three firefighters trapped in the cab until rescue crews responded to pull them free.

The accident happened around 3:30 Monday afternoon. The firefighters were returning to the station after being recalled from a fire in a neighboring town.

The driver pulled the truck to the side of the two-lane road to allow an approaching school bus to pass by.

The truck's tires edged over the road and onto a thin strip of dirt dividing the road from a ditch. The dirt gave way under the weight of the truck, which then slid into the ditch and rolled onto the driver's side.

Area fire departments responded to the accident, stabilized the vehicle and helped free the trapped firefighters. Rescuers cut out a window to extricate the firefighters.

The driver was trapped for about 35 minutes and complained of breathing difficulties, according to Medford Township Police Capt. James Kehoe.

All four firefighters in the vehicle were transported to hospitals and treated for injuries. One firefighter suffered a fractured elbow and cuts to the head; one suffered bruises and a cut on his hand (treated with stitches); one injured his leg and ankle; and one suffered bruises on his leg.

All four firefighters -- two career, two volunteer -- were treated and released from hospital the same the day.

The truck was pulled from the ditch and towed to storage. Kehoe said the truck is out of service and likely totaled.

The accident is under investigation.