HANOVER COUNTY, Va. – State police said the driver of a tractor-trailer that rear-ended a firetruck, killing one firefighter and injuring three others, has been charged in connection with the crash.
Corinne Geller, Virginia State Police Public Relations Director, said 49-year-old Lester Labarge, of California, Md., was charged with reckless driving and cited for defective brakes. Troopers said additional charges are pending.
Lt. Brad Clark with Hanover County Fire-EMS was killed and three other firefighters were injured after troopers said their firetruck was rear-ended on I-295 near Pole Green Road at 9 p.m.
"The trooper's preliminary investigation reveals that Hanover Fire Engine and EMS was on scene providing assistance with a two-vehicle crash with all of its emergency equipment activated, when a tractor-trailer traveling southbound struck the engine in the rear," Sgt. Keeli L. Hill with Virginia State Police said.
Clark, from Station 6, Hanover County Fire and EMS, died at the scene.
Officials said two other firefighters were transported to VCU Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. A fourth firefighter was treated at the scene for minor injuries, according to troopers.
"The current conditions of our Firefighters at VCU Health Systems are as follows: Firefighter/Medic #1 - Stable Condition. Firefighter/Medic #2 - Serious, but Stable Condition," Hanover County Fire-EMS Department officials said around 1:30 p.m. Friday. "We've been humbled by the show of support during this difficult time. Please know, we are in a difficult position with balancing the family's needs and quickly pushing out information."
Additionally, the driver of the semi had to be extricated from the truck's cab before being transported to an area hospital with serious injuries, Hill said.
There has been no word if weather was a factor in the crash, but Tropical Storm Michael prompted several tornado warnings and lashed the area with heavy rainfall that was torrential at times, meteorologists said.
VDOT officials said all lanes of I-295 south were closed near Route 1 (Exit 43). The I-95 north and south ramps (Exit 84 A) to I-295 south also remained closed as of 11 p.m.
Hill said the investigation into the crash is in its "preliminary stages" with the help of the Virginia State Police Crash Reconstruction Team.
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