Posted October 24, 2009 By ANDREW STRICKLER, newsday.com Â A dozen New York City firefighters were hurt – including a seriously injured driver who was trapped in an overturned vehicle – when two trucks rushing to a gas leak collided in a Brooklyn intersection Saturday morning, officials said. Â Witnesses described a deafening collision between Engine Company No. 236 and Ladder Company No. 107 at the corner of Ashford Street and Hegeman Avenue in the East New York neighborhood. Â The 9:43 a.m. crash caused the ladder truck to flip on its side and slide into a tree, trapping the hurt driver inside for about two hours as dozens of emergency personnel worked to free him. The engine ended up over a curb and onto a front lawn. Â Everett Groves, 63, the superintendent of a building at the intersection, said he was outside when he heard sirens. Â “I see this engine coming this way, I mean flying . . . horns blowing,” he said. He described the engine, which was headed west on Hegeman Avenue, hitting the rear of the ladder truck, which was headed north on Ashford. Â “The impact was tremendous,” he said. “You know the impact had to be something to hit that truck off the ground.” Â All 12 firefighters on the two trucks required medical attention. Four were seriously hurt, and eight had less serious injuries, according to an FDNY spokesman. Â The driver of the ladder truck, identified as firefighter Robert Puppa, remained trapped until about noon, and Lt. Kevin Washington, a 27-year veteran, suffered an unspecified skeletal injury, possibly a broken leg, fire officials said. Â Both were in serious condition at The Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center. Â Other firefighters were taken to Kings County Hospital Center and Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. They were still there late Saturday, a department spokesman said. An NYPD spokesman said the investigation was continuing. Â Mark Brown, 46, an electrician who was walking to a supermarket at the time, said the engine “slammed on the brakes” but was not able to stop in time. “It was not a yield,” he said. Â FDNY spokesman Jim Long said both trucks were responding with sirens and lights to a gas leak emergency in the 700 block of Warwick Street, one block west of the crash site. Â Long said the gas leak was legitimate but could not immediately say who responded. Â Station houses for Engine Company 236 and Ladder Company 107 are about a mile from each other and within a mile and a half of the crash site. Â Firefighters at the ladder company’s station house on Lincoln Avenue refused to comment.
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