Pa. Assistant Fire Chief Credited With Saving Crew

Mill Creek Assistant Chief Wayne Cohenour took the wheel of the out-of-control engine after Firefighter Mark Snyder suffered a seizure while driving the rig back to the station early Monday morning.


A Mill Creek assistant chief is being credited with saving his crew as their engine headed out of control after the driver suffered a seizure early Monday morning.

All five firefighters on board Engine 20 were hospitalized after Assistant Chief Wayne Cohenour took the wheel after Firefighter Mark Snyder fell ill.

While the engine ultimately slammed into a commercial building, Fire Chief Michael Swanger told Firehouse.com that Cohenour's actions most likely avoided a much dire outcome.

"He pretty much saved the crew," he said. "He grabbed the wheel and was able to jerk them off the road to avoid going down an embankment."

Cohenour and Snyder were flown to Altoona Hospital while Capt. Jason Chilcote and firefighters Cody Whitsel and Tyler Scott were transported to JC Blair Hospital in Huntingdon.

Cohenour -- who is still hospitalized -- was the most severely injured of the five firefighters, suffering a broken leg, a gash on his head. Swanger said that his wedding band tore off part of his finger and he lost part of his ear.

The other four firefighters were released by noon, according to Swanger.

The crew was returning from a fire call and was about a mile from their firehouse as they were traveling on Route 22 shortly after 1 a.m. when Snyder began to seize and lost control.

At that point, Swanger says the crew began to yell at him to get his attention and as the rig continued to roll, Cohenour -- who was in the front passenger seat -- took control.

The engine left the road at the intersection with Route 655, struck a sign and then slammed into the structure housing Sip's Title Craft Inc.

The apparatus went partially through the building and responding firefighters pulled them out.

Swanger said the crash totaled the 2000 Pierce Contender and that the commercial building was deemed a total loss.