CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Pratt Volunteer Fire Department truck was responding to a triple fatality on the West Virginia Turnpike when the truck crashed into a rock wall on Paint Creek Road, killing at least two firefighters, Kanawha County officials said.
The two crashes meant at least five people died in two separate crashes on Saturday night.
The events of the tragic evening began around 7 p.m. when a vehicle was traveling north in the southbound lanes and wrecked with another vehicle.
A couple from Michigan had driven the first vehicle 2 miles or more before colliding with a vehicle with a female driver.
All three involved in that wreck were killed, said Capt. Reginald Patterson, spokesman for the West Virginia State Police.
It wasn’t yet clear why the first vehicle was going in the wrong direction. “I don’t know if they got off wrong and got back on wrong,” Patterson said.
A truck with five volunteer firefighters was headed to the scene to help when it crashed. Patterson also didn’t yet know what caused that wreck.
Along with the two who died, the three others suffered serious injuries.
“This is a tragic event and believed to be the worst accident involving our volunteer fire service has ever suffered,” stated Commission President Kent Carper.
All surviving patients with the Pratt Fire Department were taken to Charleston Area Medical Center’s General Hospital, Kanawha County officials said. Physicians and medical personnel are doing everything possible to assist the firefighters, county officials said in a news release.
“The whole place is full of firemen police and medics,” Carper said.
No names were being released yet.
“At this time we are asking the prayers and thoughts of all citizens for these fire fighters and their families,” Carper stated.
Carper spent several hours at the hospital, where he spent time with the family of the Pratt volunteer fire chief, one of those being treated.
“I talked to his mother and his little daughter is there. Other families are there. Three families three different people hurt,” Carper said. “We’re just hoping for the best.”