Brookings, SD, Chief Relieved Firefighters OK after Crash

Feb. 16, 2024
Firefighters in the department's utility truck stopped in a crossover saw the rig coming at them.

"...Probably, the best sight I ever saw was my two firefighters standing around."

That's how Brookings Fire Chief Pete Bolzer felt after a sliding semi struck the department's utility truck on I-29.

The rig's driver was taking evasive action to avoid a car that had spun out.

“A lot of things went through my head, like, ‘I need to be there, but I can’t,’” Bolzer, who was at another crash, told Dakota News Now. 

The chief and his crew know just how lucky they were. 

“They were telling me their story this morning. They couldn’t do anything about what was happening even though they saw it coming,” Bolzer said. “They looked out the window and they could see the semi coming right at them and one of them told me, ‘The only thing I thought of was, how is this going to work?’”

He hopes drivers will pay close attention when they see an emergency vehicle on the road as it's one of the most dangerous places responders work. 

“I think this scared a lot of my firefighters even more than they are afraid of roadway incidents. If we had to go out there tonight, I think I would have half the attendance that I did yesterday. It’s going to take some time to get confidence back.”

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Content curated and written by Firehouse editorial staff, including Susan Nicol, Steven Shaw, Peter Matthews, Ryan Baker and Rich Dzierwa.