Fire Truck Collides with Car on Way to a Call in Columbia Heights

by Prince Of Petworth August 16, 2016 at 9:55 am 36 Comments


A reader sends the frightening shot above from Holmead and Monroe St, NW.

DC Fire and EMS reported just after 9pm:

“5 civs in auto tx area Hosps. 2 were trapped. 4 FF’s will be evaluated. Engine Was enroute to reported fire.”

“Fire truck accident with entrapment Holmead Place & Monroe St NW. No FD personnel trapped. 2 civilians in other vehicle. Unit was on call.”

  • wdc

    I’m very surprised there’s no news on the condition of the passengers. We watched them being taken out of the car, and all appeared to be alive then. I wonder if the media silence has something to do with the city’s liability?
    That said, I’m glad that DCFD tweeted more or less immediately about their involvement. It wasn’t obvious from the scene that the firetruck had been involved. That is, there were many firetrucks, and no visible damage on the one pictured above. They’re built like tanks, apparently.

    • K

      Media silence? This accident was all over the news this morning. ABC was reporting that the car crashed into the firetruck and then hit the pole. Fox5 was showing the rescue footage all morning. Their are many reasons that the medical conditions of the car passengers aren’t immediately made public.

      • wdc

        Is any of the news more recent than about 11:00 last night? Or just repeats of what we knew within an hour of the crash?

        • K

          Like I said, their are a lot of reasons why they aren’t releasing the medical information of those in the hospital. The largest being that it is private medical information. Not everything is a conspiracy theory or a political cover up. Maybe their just isn’t information to release.

          • FridayGirl

            I’m trying really hard not to correct your grammar right now because I know we don’t do that on PoPville, but it is driving me nuts.
            However, you might be right about there not being info to release yet — perhaps it will be on the news at 5. Usually, however, they do give a general idea of the condition of those involved in major accidents like this at some point. wdc is correct on that.

          • Anon

            This is just as bad as correcting grammar. Were you confused about the meaning of the post? If so, ask for clarification. If not, stop it.

          • FridayGirl

            You stop it, Anon. K clearly had nothing useful to contribute except to argue with wdc.

    • ET

      From on WTOP only one or two of the passengers was trapped but all 5 were taken to the hospital and none of those on the firetruck were hurt. They closed by saying this was a developing story.

      • wdc

        I should hope they were taken to the hospital. They were all unconscious or semi-conscious. And again, we knew all that last night. That information was in the first tweets.

        • CHGal

          Reporters can’t just go to the hospital and get medical information. The hospital has to release it.

          • Anonamom

            This… yes, we all want to know exactly what happened and how severe/serious injuries were, but we do not have a right to that information. Also, wouldn’t you rather wait until all the facts are in before rushing to judgment? It’s been 12 hours since the accident, the people in the vehicle are likely unavailable for interviews, so anything released at this point would be from DCFD’s point of view anyway.

          • anonymous

            I don’t think I’d want to know anything about the condition of the injured. What more can you do- other that just keep them in my thoughts and wish them a speedy recover if that’s the outcome. Why does it matter their condition?

          • wdc

            No, I don’t want to know exactly what happened. I’m not out for lurid details (I saw plenty last night) and I’m not rushing to judge. (??) When you stand in the rain witnessing a horrific event like this, you have some emotional investment in their well-being, and it doesn’t have to be about some kind of ghoulish curiosity. I didn’t sleep much last night after seeing this, and I’m hoping they’re ok.
            Most other news stories, even in the earliest reports, include words like “critical condition,” or “being treated for non-life-threatening injuries”. Why no basic update like with the rest of the news?

    • Anon

      Lots of coverage, plus I very much doubt the city has liability here. You are legally required to get out of the way for emergency vehicles, something drivers in this city seem to be generally incapable/unaware of.

    • eva

      NBC reports that 2 are in critical condition and 3 in serious condition. I don’t think we can expect much more detail than that.

      • FridayGirl

        Ah-ha! Thank you. I think that’s what people were looking for. Much appreciated.

  • nust

    People in this area show no respect to the DCFD. I have watched cars chase fire engines through red lights to skip the traffic, turn in front of on-coming trucks, and generally disregard the sounds of sirens. There is no way you can not see a glowing red truck with lights everywhere and a siren unless you are drunk/high/completely inattentive. Yes I am victim blaming — its their fault.

    • west_egg

      You don’t actually know that. Have a nice day!

      • FridayGirl

        Agree with both of you. There is absolutely no reason we should judge this one situation without knowing any facts. However, I do live near a fire department and work near a hospital and routinely see cars think they still have time to go through lights ahead of the emergency vehicles when they really don’t, etc.
        A PSA for everyone to please be safe and just pull over and wait. Being late is infinitely better than possibly being killed risking it.

    • wdc

      It’s true that you’ll sometimes see someone failing to yield to an emergency vehicle. However, if you don’t know the intersection in question, and you didn’t see how apocalyptically hard it was raining at the time, and didn’t see the pattern of damage involved, I think it’s pretty damned insensitive to declare fault from where you’re sitting.

      • JS

        It looks like the car was crossing Monroe via southbound Holmead and was t-boned by the truck headed eastbound on Monroe. Is that what happened?

        • Q

          I wasn’t there, but it looks like it was T-boned going south on Holmead. (I walk past that intersection daily.)

          • Q

            Which is exactly what you said. I’m going to put my head down for a while until my reading comprehension skills improve.

      • Cassie

        It’s true that every time I see an emergency vehicle with lights, sirens, and honking horn, someone totally fails to yield.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Well not all 5 of the victims were driving. Regardless of whether the driver of the car was at fault, I don’t know how you get off blaming the passengers.

      • nust


    • lizcolleena

      I agree that drivers and pedestrians alike need to be MUCH more conscientious of emergency vehicles in the DC area.

      However, I have to admit that I wonder if there’s a little bit of “boy who cried wolf” phenomenon happening. DCFD sends one or more vehicles to many unnecessary calls. I know – sometimes you don’t know if it’s necessary or not until they arrive. But sometimes you do know, and they still send the trucks out. I’ve heard it’s because they’re trying to maintain high numbers, but I do think one of the implications is that people get desensitized to emergency vehicle presence and more easily blow them off. I’m not saying that’s ok, but I also would love to see efficacy rates improve rather measure the department by just straight response rates.

  • MRD

    wdc, did you see the accident happen or the aftermath?
    It looks like the car was t-boned by the truck and I’m trying to figure out that could happen.

    • JS

      Poor visibility + the car misjudged the amount of time it’d take to clear the intersection would be my guess.

    • wdc

      I was there for the aftermath. From what I could tell, it’s as JS describes. The Honda was shoved across the intersection and smashed between the truck and the light pole you see leaning off to the left of the photo.
      While I’d normally say it’s clearly the Honda’s fault for not yielding to the truck, I know that the firetrucks coming from the 14th/Newton firehouse HAUL ASS on Monroe. They go so fast that sometimes it’s as if they’re coming out of no where. Between that and the poor visibility last night (sheets of rain, intense lightning that reduced the visibility of the fire trucks lights) and the likelihood of slippery roads (meaning that the car OR the truck might have tried to slow down and failed) it may have been an actual pure accident, with no one really “at fault”.

      • Q

        Yes, this. I’d also like to take this opportunity to renew my plea for cop cars and emergency vehicles to turn their darn lights off when they’re not responding to an emergency. I know they’ve had them on all the time for the last few years to “be more visible to the community” (feh), but when there’s loud rain and thunder, or my windows are closed and radio on, or windows are open and guy next to me has music blasting, I can’t necessarily hear the sirens, so even if I see the lights, I don’t know if they’re just cruising around or barreling down the street. And how would someone who’s hearing impaired–whether walking or driving–be able to tell the difference? I’d welcome any comments on how the pros of this outweigh the cons (seriously, I would) because I don’t understand this and it really annoys me.

        • Jojo

          Lights on acts as a deterrent. I like the policy

      • Anon Spock

        I drove in that mess last night, and I was able to see police lights (less than firetrucks I’m sure) well in the distance when I couldn’t even see the lines on the road.
        Wouldn’t the intense, light up the sky like daylight lightning INCREASE visibility? What about the sirens? Even in that rain, those things are loud especially if they’re flying.
        The car may ultimately be deemed not at fault, but I’d be surprised if that’s the case.

      • anony

        “meaning that the car OR the truck might have tried to slow down and failed”

        It would have to accelerate from a stop sign fast enough to find its way in front of the fire truck. If it had stopped at the stop sign, it should have been able to at least see the flashing lights of the truck in the rain given how close the truck had to be. Perhaps the rain limited visibility and he missed the stop sign, so was going fast enough to not see the truck around the corner.

        That being said, it would be nice if people actually stopped at any of the 4 stops signs at that intersection under normal driving conditions.

  • lizcolleena

    That is a tough intersection. It’s a T and fairly hard to see around parked cars if turning either way onto Holmead from Monroe, and that’s without the heavy rain, thunder and lightening that was happening around the time of this crash. Hope everyone is ok!

    • lizcolleena

      oops that’s not a T, was thinking of the intersection one block north. My bad!


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