Two East Hartford firefighters have been released from the hospital after being rear-ended on Route 2 in in town while responding to help a stranded car, according to fire officials.
East Hartford Deputy Fire Chief Richard Westman and apparatus driver Lee Brow were on their way back from an 5:50 p.m. crash on Route 2 eastbound near exit 5b that required extricating two people when they spotted a car stuck on a guardrail near exit 5a on the westbound side. They stopped to see if the driver needed help. When Brow was heading back to the department-owned 2009 Chevrolet Suburban, a car speeding on the westbound side of the highway struck the deputy chief's vehicle at about 6:13 p.m., injuring both of them, fire officials said.
Though injured, Deputy Chief Westman called for help and both he and Brow checked on the occupants in the car that had hit them, fire officials said.
The two firefighters and parties in the other vehicle were transported to the hospital. East Hartford Fire Chief John Oates says Westman and Oates were evaluated for back, arm, and hip pain at Hartford Hospital.
"I am just very thankful that their injuries were not worse," East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc said in a written statement. "The damage to the vehicle is a small price to pay for the safety of the members."
The identities of the others involved in the accident was not immediately available. It's unknown whether any charges were filed.
This was the second crash the firefighters responded to on Route 2 Saturday evening, according to Oates. The earlier collision Westman, Brow and three fire trucks responded to involved a car that likely crossed into on-coming eastbound traffic while road conditions were slippery and snow was falling heavily, fire officials said. The car fire crews rescued two people from was heavily damaged. There is no word on the condition of those occupants.
Department officials said in a news release that they feel lucky their firefighters' injuries weren't worse.
"The accident is a brutal reminder of the risks faced by firefighters, police officers, EMS worker (sic), and public works/highway workers every single day as they operate on the roadway," Oates said. "I am thankful Rick and Lee were not severely injured. We remind the public to slow down during bad weather and reduce their speed as they approach emergency vehicles working on the highway."
Slippery conditions across the state have resulted in multiple accidents. Governor Dannel P. Malloy urged residents to avoid unnecessary driving as conditions deteriorated overnight Saturday into Sunday.