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Struck By Incidents

Ohio: Fire truck struck by semi after driver fell asleep in Liberty Township

Saturday, July 13, 2019

A crash involving two semis led to a firefighter ending up in the hospital after his fire truck was hit by a third semi in Liberty Township early Tuesday.

Dispatch said two semis crashed on I-75 northbound near the Liberty Way exit after midnight. Both semis were disabled and one was blocking traffic in the right lane of I-75.

Moments later, a fire truck was struck by a third semi while assisting with traffic control and blocking the right lanes of I-75 with its emergency lights on as crews investigated the original crash.

"It's horrific. You can't do justice with just looking at the pictures,” said Liberty Township Fire Chief Ethan Klussman. "We are like a tight-knit family. To them, they thought they lost a brother today."

One firefighter was inside the truck when it was hit. He was taken to the hospital with injuries that didn't appear to be life-threatening.

"I actually stayed with him at the hospital for about four hours, but he's home, he's resting, he's comfortable and, as you can imagine, he is very sore,” said Klussman.

Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the crash. Initial reports indicate the driver of the semi-truck fell asleep at the wheel and T-boned the fire truck. The ladder truck was strategically placed as a barricade to protect the first responders on the scene of the previous accident, a tactic Klussman says saved lives.

"The chief before me actually started this practice, especially with interstate calls. Distracted driving or even people falling asleep at the wheel, having that blocking vehicle is essential to protect the lives of our responders but also the occupants of the vehicles involved in the first crash,” said Klussman.

The driver of the semi suffered minor injuries and was also taken to the hospital. He is facing one charge because he was asleep at the wheel and another charge for not being able to stop or avoid the crash.

The fire department must now wait for the manufacturer of the truck to inspect it to see if it’s totaled and can be repaired. Klussman says a new ladder truck like the one hit costs about $1.3 million.

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