A Nebraska firefighter was killed Wednesday afternoon when a semi-tractor trailer smashed into his ambulance during a routine patient transport.
Ronald Holmes, 43, served the North Platte Fire Department in Lincoln County as a full time firefighter/EMT for 18 years.
He was transporting a patient about 220 miles from North Platte to Lincoln, said Assistant Chief Chip Volcek.
Holmes was traveling on eastbound Interstate 80 and was just 15 miles outside Lincoln when the fatal accident occurred. "Somewhere in a construction zone a semi truck rear-ended the ambulance, forcing the ambulance into another big truck," Volcek said.
Seward County emergency workers responded and found Holmes dead on arrival. The patient and another firefighter in the back of the ambulance were taken by Life Flight to the hospital in Lincoln, where both are in stable condition. Volcek said the second firefighter suffered broken bones, but he did not have information about injuries to the patient.
Volcek said no one else was seriously injured in the accident, but the traffic back-up on I-80 likely caused another fatal collision that occurred about 20 miles away a short time later.
Holmes is survived by his wife Patty and his teenage daughter Chelsea.
"Ron was a typical small-town person, who would help in any way," Volcek said. "You could always count on Ron to do his job when you needed him to." Volcek described him as opinionated but respectful, and someone who loved to joke around and laugh.
Volcek said this is the first line of duty death in the department. Funeral arrangements will be posted when they become available.
The North Platte Fire Department operates out of three stations and has 39 paid firefighters and 36 active volunteers, who serve a population of 35,000 over an area of 369 square miles.
Related: North Platte Fire Department