DALLAS COUNTY, Texas - A Hutchins firefighter is still in the hospital after he and three other first responders were injured in a wreck over the weekend.
Two firefighters and two police officers were helping out a motorist who had hydroplaned and hit the median on Saturday. While standing on the shoulder, dash cam video shows an SUV slam into a squad car, which in turn hit the first responders.
The interim Hutchins Fire Department chief said that one of the firefighters was released from the hospital on Sunday. He's very sore, but he is at home recovering. The other firefighter, though, will have a much longer recovery.
One of the injured officers is hoping the story will remind people to slow down and move over when they see first responders.
On a stretch of Interstate 20 between Dowdy Ferry and 45, Wilmer Police Officer Alex Lopez responded to what would have otherwise been a routine call.
“I thank god that I'm still here,” he said. “The situation could have been worse.”
An officer with the neighboring Hutchins Police Department was already helping out the driver and passenger of a truck that hit the median. A Hutchins fire engine arrived and blocked the shoulder and inside lane to make it safer.
As the officer and two Hutchins firefighters stood in front of the Hutchins police SUV, another SUV slammed into the patrol unit out of their field of vision. Lopez' body camera was recording through his reflective vest from the other side. The video shows they never even saw what hit them.
“None of us were able to see the car or anything coming,” Lopez said. “We had no chance to really yell out or say there's a vehicle coming or anything like that.”
Both firefighters were hospitalized.
Lopez escaped with some bumps and scrapes. Lopez now hopes their story will serve as a reminder for drivers to be cautious when they see anyone on the side of the road, especially on wet days we've seen so often these past few weeks in North Texas.
“It was a very tough video to watch. The situation could have been a whole lot worse than it was. Thank God we were all able to walk away alive and breathing,” Lopez said. “It's super dangerous in, let alone, just dry conditions, but when you have rain, sleet, ice, people do need to slow down on the highways and give us more room to work with.”
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash. It does not expect the driver to be charged. A spokesperson noted its deputies were working several weather-related accidents at the time.
The Hutchins fire chief told me the same engine and same shift had a vehicle barrel toward them earlier this summer. That time, the fire engine blocked the vehicle and the firefighters weren't hurt.