Car Hits Tennessee Firefighter

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A young Union County firefighter working an early Saturday morning accident became a victim when he was hit by a car.

19-year-old Daniel Rice serves with the Paulette Volunteer Fire Department. He is at the University of Tennessee Medical Center with multiple injuries, including broken legs.

Rice joined the Paulette department when he was just 16 as part of the Explorer's program, for kids interested in firefighting.

His chief, Matt Lovitt describes Rice as "just an all around good kid".

Rice was on duty last night when he responded to a fatal car accident in the 2200 block of Maynardville Highway.

Union County Sheriff's deputies and Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers had the road blocked off with their vehicles. Firefighter Rice was directing traffic around the scene when he was hit.

Chief Lovitt spoke with Rice before he underwent surgery this morning.

"Apparently he heard the car or something turned hit bounced up on the windshield said he was face to face with her bounced up over the car," Lovitt says.

Lovitt is grateful Rice survived, but upset that his life was put in jeopardy in the first place.

"I really think it's a sad situation that if police cars are crossing the road that you shouldn't pass the police cars and you sure shouldn't run people over," Lovitt says.

He also has a message for everyone who shares the road with emergency vehicles.

"They need to realize that if we're there, there is something serious going on and all we're asking for is a little room and a little courtesy and they really need to slow down when they see red lights and blue lights whether it's police fire trucks or an ambulance," Lovitt says.

The driver of the car that hit Rice received four citations, including one for breaking Tennessee's eight month old "Move Over" law. That law requires drivers to get into another lane when they see emergency vehicles nearby.

Authorities are still investigating the fatal accident that Rice was helping with. THP says Penny Gibson, of Maynardville, died when she fell from the car she was riding in with her boyfriend and a friend. Investigators do not know if she jumped or was pushed out of the car.