NEW NEBRASKA FIRE ENGINE REAR-ENDED BY COUNTY SHERIFF’S CAR

An unidentified Dodge County sheriff’s deputy suffered minor injuries Wednesday but was back on duty Thursday after hitting a parked Fremont Fire Department truck. The accident caused significant damage to his patrol SUV.

Dodge County sheriff’s Sgt. Brie Frank said county officials are not naming the deputy because the accident is still under investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol.

Fremont Fire Chief Todd Bernt said the accident left the city fire department’s newest and most advanced fire truck with significant damages and knocked it out of use for an unknown period of time.

No firefighters or paramedics were injured in the accident, he noted.

“We were already on a personal injury (accident) call and the deputy was responding to that,” Bernt said. “(The deputy) rear-ended Fire Engine 132, which has all of our extrication equipment on it. It is our newest fire engine, we got it just last year.”

Bernt said he was thankful for the fire department crew on the scene, who parked the large fire engine behind the responding ambulance and at an angle. That safety procedure prevented the Dodge County sheriff’s patrol vehicle from ramming the ambulance and responding paramedics and EMTs, he added.

“At accidents like that, we park the fire engine behind the ambulance at an angle so it protects first responders,” Bernt explained. “If it wasn’t for that (parking method), the (deputy) could have hit the ambulance and there could have been serious injuries.”

The accident happened as icy conditions grew worse through the early afternoon, coating much of Dodge County with a thin, but slick, sheen of ice.

Frank said the Chevy Tahoe sheriff’s patrol SUV the deputy was driving was “totaled” and not usable. She also said the deputy was transferred to Methodist Fremont Health, where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

According to the sheriff’s office press release, the incident happened at about 1:25 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, as icy conditions began to worsen across the region as Winter Storm Olive blasted the Midwest.

There was already a multi-agency response to a motor vehicle accident with a personal injury at the intersection of U.S. Highway 275 and Business U.S. Highway 30, near the Menards hardware store, officials reported.

“Dodge County deputies and the Fremont Fire Department arrived on scene and began to treat the injured parties from the single-vehicle crash. As another deputy was arriving on scene, the deputy lost control of the cruiser on ice and collided with the back of a parked fire truck,” sheriff’s officials stated in their press release. “The deputy involved was transported to Methodist Fremont Health with minor injuries. The deputy is doing well and has returned to work. The secondary crash is under investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol. Road conditions are considered a factor in the crash.”

Bernt said the city fire truck is currently being assessed by workers at the Rosenbauer Group, the same plant in Wyoming, Minnesota, where it was constructed, and that he is not aware yet of the level of damage, possible cost of repairs and a timeline of when the truck will be back in service.

The victim extrication equipment carried by the new fire truck was not damaged in the accident, Bernt added, and has been transferred to a back-up fire engine that the department kept in reserve in the event of a situation like this.

“We do have another reserve fire engine we can use,” he said. “There is no timeline on (the damaged engine) going back into service.”

The purchase of the new fire engine was approved by the Fremont City Council in September 2020. It replaced the oldest of the department’s three fire trucks, an E-ONE model from 1995.

The fire engine was bought with funds from the city’s capital improvement plan, which budgeted $571,000 for the vehicle. The engine was constructed by the Rosenbauer Group, a fire-service vehicle manufacturer, and Heiman Fire, its dealer.