Upstate emergency workers trapped in fire truck after driver swerves to avoid deer

(Photo: WYFF)
(Photo: WYFF)

PICKENS COUNTY, SC (WYFF) - A fire truck overturned in Pickens County early Monday morning, trapping firefighters in the wreckage, according to Pickens County Emergency Management officials.

The call came in at 4:30 a.m. about the wreck on Pleasant Grove Road near Moody Bridge Road off Highway 11.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol said the driver, 64-year-old Mickey Thomas, swerved to avoid a deer in the road right before the accident.

Chuck Haynes, director of Pickens County Emergency Management, said the three volunteers in the Pumpkintown Fire Department's 2,000-gallon tanker truck were answering a call for a structure fire on the same road they crashed on.

Haynes said the driver lost control in a curve. All three firefighters on board were hurt, according to Haynes.

They suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to Haynes, who said they all were conscious and talking after the wreck.

One of the firefighters was able to get out and call for help, Haynes said.

A second firefighter managed to get out on his own and a third firefighter required extraction equipment to free him from the wreck, but he was talking the whole time, according to Haynes.

A MedTrans helicopter landed in the area and was prepared to fly at least one patient to the hospital, dispatchers said. Troopers said the firefighter extricated from the truck was Thomas.  He was flown to the hospital.

"Everyone's concerned, you know," said Haynes."This is family. All of us in the fire service district, whether we know these folks or not, our hearts and prayers go out to them and their families."

The tanker truck involved in the wreck is owned by the county, said Michael Hayes, risk manager for the county.

Hayes said the tanker is a complete loss.  He is in the process of filing the insurance paperwork on it.  Hayes said a new 2,000-gallon tanker will have to be purchased to replace what was their main one.

Hayes said in the meantime, they will continue to protect the fire district through mutual aid agreements with several nearby fire departments.

Hayes also said the abandoned house that was on fire has been for sale for some time.

"The fire chief doesn't suspect arson," said Hayes.  "There is nothing that leads him to believe there was, but because there was bodily injury in response to that fire, we're making sure that is not a possibility."

The Pumpkintown Fire Department is an all-volunteer department, Haynes said.

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