Two Preston fire fighters injured in engine crash; fire truck totalled, Missouri, US
Two fire fighters, including the fire chief’s son, were injured Saturday, 8 April 2023, when their fire engine rolled on its side while trying to avoid an oncoming car. The fire fighters, Jared Bennett, aged 26 and John Sanchez, aged 18, were responding to a fire south of Preston in Missouri, US, at about 16h00 when the accident happened. The vehicle was rounding a curve on Route D when it met another car making a turn and heading directly toward the truck. The fire engine overcorrected trying to avoid the oncoming car, crossed the centre line and crashed into a ditch. Bennett was ejected from the truck.
He suffered a broken rib cage, arm injuries and head lacerations. He remains in the hospital awaiting surgery for his rib cage injuries.
Sanchez suffered a probable concussion, facial lacerations and bruising. He was treated and released.
Jared happens to be the son of Preston Fire Chief Brian Bennett. Chief Bennett was also on his way to the fire and encountered a car driving in his lane. “As we proceeded down the highway, a fire fighter came on the radio and told me he had traffic in his lane. At that moment, I was coming around the curve when I met another car in my lane. I had moved over when I came around the curve. I’d seen my chief engineer had been ejected from the vehicle and our engine had rolled over on its side,” said Chief Bennett.
The chief says his son told him the car had come across the yellow line and he thought he had enough room to move over just a little bit but then dropped off the shoulder and overturned.
Jared, a chief engineer for the fire department, was driving the truck and was taken to Mercy Hospital in Springfield. Chief Bennett says Jared is in the trauma ICU waiting for surgery on Monday. Sanchez was released from the hospital and is in good condition.
“All of his ribs are broken; the sternum is broken. So in the morning, they’re going to go in and put everything back together because all of his ribs are displaced, currently has in the chest tube, just having some breathing difficulties associated with a lot of broken ribs,” says Chief Bennett.
Chief Bennett says they are working to find the car that was driving in the wrong lane that led to the rollover.
“You know, there’s a lot of things that we can get by with, had they been texting or lighting a cigarette, on the phone, whatever, if they were to just stop. Instead, they left my son, a fire fighter, laying in the middle of the highway, basically, as roadkill,” said Bennett.
Chief Bennett wants people to understand their responsibilities on the road. “When they’re out in their vehicles and driving, and something like this was to happen, the importance of just stopping and maybe rendering any type of aid. Had I not been behind them, I don’t know how long it could have been before anybody got there,” said Bennett. “And then really, just to get people involved with their local fire departments, whether it be first aid, CPR, anything. So if they do come upon a tragedy like this, they’re able to do something. But mainly, it just all revolves around driving safely and really paying attention to what’s going on around you.”
He also urges to remind everyone what is at stake when they get behind the steering wheel. “In today’s society, everybody’s in such a rush to get things done. No matter it being a fire department or just everyday drivers, someone may not get to go home to a loved one. And that’s, I think, for me, is what I really want people to understand is what’s at stake for everyone,” said Chief Bennett.
The fire truck is a total loss and was broken in half.
“That was our main engine but it will set us back quite a ways. Because, you know, we don’t anticipate ever going out and needing to look for a truck or, you know, look for equipment to do our jobs with on a daily basis. And right now, I haven’t even begun searching for anything. So right now, it will put us behind the eight ball a lot. And that’s why I’m really so fortunate to have these other departments that are stepping up to help out in the community when we need them the most,” says Chief Bennett.
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