Grasonville VDF Pumper Totaled by Tractor-Trailer

Four members of the Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department were injured last week when the stopped fire engine they were in was struck by a tractor-trailer on the Kent Narrows Bridge. Department officials say the badly damaged 18-year-old engine is a total loss. The four firefighters, Assistant Chief Steve McCombs, 38, Alex Dale, 27, Tom Sheahan, 23, and Ray Stokes, 26, were taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis and were treated and released, according to a statement from Kevin Aftung, public information officer for the Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services.

Jason Anthony, chief of the Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department, said the four were “banged up” and bruised. He said ambulances from Grasonville and Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department and Queen Anne’s County took the men to the hospital. Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department also responded with a rescue and a utility truck, which was a “big help,” Anthony said. “They kept Steve [McCombs] a little longer because they thought his arm might have been broken and because he was in pain,” but X-rays came back negative, Anthony said.

Two other firefighters in the engine’s cab at the time of the collision identified by Maryland State Police as Robert Marsh IV and Jeremy Smith were not hurt but drove themselves to Anne Arundel Medical Center for a checkup. Anthony said a section of the engine’s pumping equipment took the brunt of the collision and likely saved the men from more serious injury. He said the 1992 Seagrave engine will have to be replaced.

The back portion of the cab on the left side of the engine was heavily damaged and bent. There also was damage to the part of the engine containing the pumping equipment and other gear, and other parts of the left side of the engine were damaged. “If we had to fix the cab we’d have to replace the whole thing, and that engine’s 18 years old,” said Anthony. He said the engine is insured for $450,000. Insurance adjusters are expected at the firehouse this week, he said.

The incident occurred shortly after 11 p.m. while the fire engine was blocking the center and right lanes of the Kent Narrows Bridge, where a minor traffic accident had occurred a short time earlier, police said in a statement. A 1995 Peterbilt tractor-trailer registered in New York and traveling in the center lane coming over the bridge was unable to stop and struck the fire engine on the left side, according to police.

Anthony said the engine was parked at about a 45-degree angle prior to the crest of the bridge with its lights flashing at the time. He said light snow was falling and it was “a little slick out there” but visibility was “OK.” The six firefighters were in the cab waiting for the earlier accident to be moved from the scene, he explained. Police identified the tractor-trailer driver as Anastacio Cruz, 46, of Brentwood, N.Y. Anthony said it was a flatbed truck with a covered load. The truck driver was unhurt in the collision.