Tallahassee, Florida Fire Department Tanker Overturns and Hits Pickup

A Tallahassee Fire Department tanker truck overturned and struck a pickup truck on Woodville Highway Thursday afternoon, according to the Leon County Sheriff's Office.

The driver of the tanker truck, Harold Barber, a 21-year veteran of the Tallahassee Fire Department, was treated for minor injuries and released from Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. The occupants of the pickup truck, Craig Cramer of Tallahassee and his 12-year-old son, Isaac, were not injured.

Here's what investigators say happened:

The tanker and another fire truck were responding to a brush fire call about 2 p.m. They were traveling south on Woodville Highway when the lead fire truck began to slow to make a left turn onto Natural Wells Drive. The 2,500-gallon tanker behind it couldn't slow as easily -and its rear began to drift into the opposite lane of traffic, Sheriff's Office spokesman Chris Chase said.

The tanker started to flip over and it struck the rear of the pickup truck, which was traveling northbound, Chase said. Craig Cramer, who was driving the pickup truck, said he swerved to the right to avoid the tanker.

"I stomped on the accelerator and turned right and jumped into the bank," Cramer said.

The tanker landed right-side up, but the cab was crushed around Barber, Chase said. He was pinned inside the vehicle and had to be freed by rescuers.

Barber, who returned to the scene after being released from the hospital, said he couldn't comment on the crash. "I'm a little sore, but I'm all right," he said.

Steve Marks, the fire department's interim deputy chief, believes the $400,000 tanker is a total loss. It contains equipment such as hoses, extinguishers and hand tools. The brush fire the trucks were originally responding to was actually a controlled burn on Syphon Drive, Marks said.

But Cramer gave Barber credit for trying to avoid the crash.

"He was doing everything he could not to run me over," Cramer said. "He tried to bend it back to the highway, but he couldn't do it because he was turning over."

Cramer and his son were returning to Tallahassee from a fishing trip near Wakulla Beach.

"When we hit the bank, I looked back and said 'whew'," Isaac Cramer said. "The side panel came off the (fire) truck and water went everywhere and tools came out the truck."

A short stretch of Woodville Highway was closed until 5 p.m. and traffic was diverted to the Old Woodville Highway, Chase said. The case is being investigated by the Sheriff's Office.