Two Virginia Firefighters Injured at Crash Scene

HARRISONBURG, Va.-- Two firefighters were injured, one seriously, while responding to a wreck on Interstate 81 early Saturday morning.

Both are volunteers with the county's Hose Company No. 4, according to Company Chief Will Bascom.

Firefighter Bryan Smith, of Harrisonburg, was in serious condition as of press time Sunday, according to a spokeswoman at the University of Virginia Medical Center, where the two firefighters were flown for treatment.

Firefighter Kristen Furlough, a student at James Madison University, was in fair condition, the spokeswoman said.

The Wreck

Four firefighters from Company No. 4 responded to a call for help when a woman crashed her car into the median on I-81 near exit 247 in Harrisonburg, Bascom said.

A few minutes before 6 a.m., Monika Radisauskatie, 24, of Pennsylvania, lost control of her 2003 Explorer, said Sgt. F. L. Tyler of the Virginia State Police.

"It started off as a single vehicle wreck," he said.

The firefighters went to the car to check that Radisauskatie was all right, said Bascom, who was on the scene when his colleagues were injured. "We were just about to pack up."

That's when a second vehicle lost control and struck the firefighters and the Explorer. Barry Neighbors, 59, of Strasburg, was driving the vehicle, a 2001 Ford F150, which also ended up in the median.

Smith, Furlough and Neighbors were flown to U.Va. Neighbors was listed in good condition Sunday.

Radisauskatie sustained no injuries in the wreck but was charged with reckless driving.

Trooper C.T. Depoy is investigating and more charges could be filed, Tyler said.

Community Support

For now, Hose Company No. 4 will continue to closely watch the condition of its two colleagues, Bascom said. Their injuries were severe and "they'll be there for a while," Bascom said, choking back tears. "They've got a long road to recovery."

But the company and community are behind the firefighters, Bascom said.

"It's been a significant incident for our department," he said. "We've had a tremendous outpouring of support from other departments."

Republished with permission of The Daily News Record.

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