HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Hillsborough County Fire Rescue unit collided head on with a vehicle heading south on US 301 Tuesday afternoon. The accident occurred around 2:30 pm just south of Franklin Road, near the Fellowship Baptist Church.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Engine 32 was responding to an accident with the truck’s lights and siren on. The truck was also filled with water, increasing its weight. The driver of a 2012 Lincoln MKZ, heading south, drifted into the northbound lane, officials said.
FHP says because of the weight differential, the driver of the Lincoln was killed on impact. The truck crushed the Lincoln.
None of the three firefighters on Engine 32 suffered injuries. The fire truck was heavily damaged and was towed off. The accident closed US 301 in both directions for more than three hours.
News Channel 8 talked with a local firefighter about the dangers crews face on the roads.
Firefighters often have to deal with drivers not paying attention, said Brad Dykens from Seminole Fire Rescue. “He’s controlling a vehicle that weighs 10 times more than the average weight of a vehicle,” Dykens explained about the fire truck. It’s hard to stop them, he explained.
“Unfortunately we all have had a bunch of close calls,” Dykens said.
He pointed to texting, music and GPS systems as key distractors. “We’re trying to overcome how well our cars are constructed these days. They’re sound proof,” he added. “It gives you chills. It makes you sick to your stomach, and I feel desperately for the families affected.”