UPDATE: DEPUTY CHIEF CRITICALLY INJURED IN CRASH WHILE RESPONDING – WEST VIRGINIA

BELINGTON, W.Va. — Belington Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike Hart suffered a medical emergency while responding to a vehicle fire Friday afternoon and is listed in critical condition at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital.

The chief of the department and Mike’s brother, Phil, said the accident happened around 4:50 p.m. while responding to a vehicle fire on U.S. Route 48 with the Junior Volunteer Fire Department.

“Deputy Chief Mike Hart was responding from his house to the fire station, suffered a medical emergency, lost consciousness, went off the road, struck a tree, and was severely injured,” Hart said.

Mike Hart was flown from the scene and is being treated for a head injury, fractured ribs, and a fractured back. He underwent surgery on Friday following the accident and is in the Intensive Care Unit.

“He has a very severe scalp injury, and he’s lost a lot of blood,” Hart said. “During the surgery, he was unstable, but they have stabilized him, and the doctors say he is in critical condition at this time.”

Hart praised the response of the West Virginia State Police, the Barbour County Office of Emergency Management, and the Barbour County Sheriff’s Department.

Hart said the crews relied on training as they worked to free one of their own.

“He dedicated 50 years to the fire service in Belington,” Hart said. “It’s a horrifying scene when you know it’s one of your members, but when you know it’s your brother,”

There will be a long recovery, and right now the department is looking for prayers.

“At this time, all we’re asking for is prayers for a quick recovery for him,” Hart said.