Civilian Killed in Connecticut Fire Truck Crash

BRIDGEPORT ??? An elderly woman was killed and another critically injured Tuesday when their car and a fire ladder truck collided downtown in a T-bone accident.

Police would not identify the women, who were reportedly in their 70s or 80s.

Bridgeport Hospital spokesman John Cappiello said Tuesday night that the surviving woman was listed in critical condition.

Also, the four firefighters manning the truck, Ladder 5, were taken to St. Vincent's Medical Center for observation because they were shaken by the crash, said provisional Assistant Fire Chief Ismael Pomales. He identified them as Lt. Shane Porter and firefighters David Otero, Timothy Gies and Richard Rivera.

Otero, the driver, also underwent mandatory testing for drugs and alcohol, a protocol for the driver of any emergency vehicle involved in an accident, Pomales said. They were responding to reported smoke around a Catherine Street home, Pomales said.

All four went off-duty on injury leave for a couple of days, he said.

According to Pomales, who cited 10 police witness statements, the truck was using lights and sirens when it left fire headquarters headed west on Congress Street about 4 p.m. It struck the women's car, which was headed south on Housatonic Avenue, he said.

Otero slowed to check for traffic before proceeding through the intersection, Pomales added.

The truck, which weighs about 17 tons, pushed the two-ton car about 25 to 30 feet west on Congress Street, Pomales said.

Gloria Turley, a witness, said she was behind the car when the accident happened.

She said she could hear the truck's sirens and was surprised when the women started through the intersection.

Domingo Zapata, who saw the crash from his store at 100 Congress St., said the women appeared not to see the truck before entering the intersection.

The accident caused heavy damage to the driver's side of the car. Firefighters cut the door from the car with the Jaws of Life, as well as cutting out the dashboard, to free her, Pomales said.

The accident was under investigation by the Police Department's Traffic Division, who did not release any further information.

Pomales called Otero "an excellent firefighter, very much on the ball."

Both vehicles were towed for investigation, Pomales said. A spare ladder truck was brought in, and more firefighters called in to replace the first company, he said.

Republished with permission from The Connecticut Post