Two friends in their 20s were killed Sunday when their car was hit by a city fire-rescue truck rushing to an early-morning emergency.
Driving a Mitsubishi Mirage, Thomas Hockman, 22, of Pompano Beach, and front-seat passenger Lucas James Hamilton, 25, of Boca Raton, were killed instantly in the 2 a.m. collision at Atlantic Boulevard and Federal Highway, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.
A passenger in the back seat, Jonathan Markert, 24, was in critical condition Sunday night at North Broward Medical Center.
The three Pompano Beach Fire Rescue officers on the heavily equipped truck were unharmed.
Responding to a Pompano boating incident, the truck was traveling about 36 mph, said Fire Rescue spokeswoman Sandra King. She said the car ran the red light.
A 10-year veteran firefighter at the wheel tried to stop the vehicle, but its massive weight acted like a locomotive, pushing the Mirage for more than a block.
''The firefighters are all extremely shaken and upset,'' King said. ``They are in the business of saving lives. Something like this really devastates.''
Chad Gessner, 27, of Sylvania, Ohio, was driving south on Federal Highway when he saw the crash. ''Every window just pretty much shattered in the car immediately,'' he said. ``It looked like a bomb had exploded in the car.''
Anthony Florenzano, 41, Pompano, was on his way into a 24-hour CVS drug store when he saw the crash and the firefighters rushing to help the three men.
But it was quickly apparent the firefighter could do little.
''All of a sudden, they backed out and shook their heads,'' Florenzano said.
At North Broward Medical Center, friends of the young men gathered to pull for Markert.
Hockman's roommate Robert Hawthorne, 24, said he and the three men had been drinking at a Pompano Beach bar not far from the accident site.
But Hawthorne, who took another car and arrived on the scene half an hour later, insisted Hockman was not drunk when the group left the bar.
The friends met while playing hockey in Ohio. They moved to Broward in 2002 to work at Premium Beverages, a company that sells wine to businesses wholesale.
''He was planning on going home soon,'' Hawthorne said of Hockman. ``Thomas always looked forward to that.''