Report: FDNY Truck Ran Light In Fatal Dongan Hills Collision

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A fire engine involved in a fatal collision with a van ran a red light, violating state law while on an emergency run, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The accident happened at around noon Wednesday at the intersection of Richmond Road and Burgher Avenue in Dongan Hills.

The FDNY truck from Ladder 81 was heading to a car fire on the Staten Island Expressway, with its siren on moments before the crash.

eric perry d4dddb3f3e6babd8 Report: FDNY Truck Ran Light In Fatal Dongan Hills Collision

Eric Perry in 2007 (Photo: The Staten Island Advance/Hilton Flores)

The van then made a left from Burgher onto Richmond, witness Ali Alsaede said. The fire truck then crashed into the van’s rear driver door.

Police said the van, from a nonprofit organization called Lifestyles for the Disabled, was carrying special needs adults, plus a driver and an aide. 51-year-old Special Olympian Eric Perry was killed in the crash, and two people were critically injured.

The critically injured passengers were rushed to Staten Island North Hospital. Six firefighters were hurt in the crash, as well as six civilians.

The fire engine did not come to a complete stop at a red light as required by state law, according to the Journal report. State law requires emergency vehicles to stop at red lights, even if their lights and flashing and sirens blaring.

The FDNY told the paper that after stopping, fire trucks can proceed with caution if the intersection is clear.

It was later reported that the car fire was actually an overheated car.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Bill116

    Ugh #3
    Many factors to consider. so please don’t rush to judgement. The fire company was responding from another direction and not from the firehouse, why? Any number of reasons. They could have been returning from another call, or they could have been out performing Dept. mandated building inspections, or they could have been procuring a meal for the company. This is a devastating turn of events for all parties involved. If there is a fatality, there is an immediate drug/ alcohol test for the chauffeur and officer, which is conducted by NYPD and not FDNY. This is a horrible and tragic, until we know all the facts not qualified to judge

  • Ethan Kavet

    I surprised the caller couldn’t tell the difference between an overheated car and a car on fire.

  • Frank

    Supposed to save lives not end them

  • Not me again!!!

    The firetruck driver should be locked up!!!!!!!!!

  • Mr. Armenia

    Hopefully firefighters will now slow down at every intersection!!!

  • Rogelio

    Oh darn… all of the sudden everyone’s a firefighter or a firetruck driver, and knowledgeable at traffic law. Unless you all experts and pundits on the matter have the experience of being a firefighter and/or an emergency response vehicle driver: keep mum, your uneducated opinion and best guesses are not helping anyone. FDNY you rock.

  • Truth

    The investigation is under way…lets just hope that the investigaton is thorough and truthful. There is a lot more here than just a firetruck crashing into another vehicle. ?? An innocent man died, for no reason…..Was the FDNY heading to a car fire and if so…. Was this information generated by a 911 call/report? or was this information reported by a passerby? …and if it was a passerby, How did they report this…in person or by a phone call??? and did Ladder 81 call in the job, they were heading to….This information must be factual…There will be reports generated… or did ladder 81 explain the reason after the acciident/crash ?? Was Ladder 81 just patrolling the streets, before the so called report of a car fire?? Were they shopping ?? Why wasn’t the firetruck in the firehouse ??…Why was the Ladder company so far from the firehouse, enroute to this so called report of a car fire?? ? The firehouse is located just south of the alleged car fire??… But yet the firetruck was heading North speeding up Richmond Road?? If the firetruck was so far from the so called scene of an emergency, why wasn’t a call made for another engine/ladder company to respond??? The Firetruck was speeding through red-lights….Why weren’t NYPD called?? If there was a car fire on the Staten Island Expressway, then there must have been many, many 911 calls generated…. were there such calls????? How many call ?? There should/could be video from the expressway….Was there really a carfire ?? we now live in a society with many video cameras, Stories can be made up, but the video will show the facts….Then lo and behold the car fire?? turns out to be an overheated car?? The story keeps changing??? Was there such a car?? or Is this just a made up story ?? This is a tragedy for all the parties involved, The death of an innocent man, The two individuals in the ICU at Staten Island University Hospital in critical condition( These individuals are speial needs people- The younger man (23) is an autistic young man, can you imagine his horror and fear…..I just hope and pray for all the parties involved….The truth will come out…..Accident?? The reports keep mentioning lights/sirens ?? LETS NOT GET CONFUSED….LETS LOOK AT THE FACTS…..WHY WAS THIS TRUCK RACING TO AN ALLEGED EMERGENCY THAT WAS EXTREMLY CLOSE TO THE FIREHOUSE….YET THE FIREMAN WEREN’T HOME?? WHERE WERE THEY COMING FROM??? An investigation should be conducted, but the investigation should be conducted by a pary independent of the FDNY/NYPD…….Did both drivers submit to not only breathalyzer tests, but a full drug test as welll……Accidents happen?? But if this was an accident, It could have easily been avoided….I believe every firetruck should have cameras installed that automaticaly record to a data base, so that more people can help with all emergencies….We must always learn from the past mistakes or we will be doomed to repeat again and again and that is just ignorance……If there was complete negligence involved, then I hope and pray the firefighters will step up and come forward and explain and not hide…….

  • Richard

    I drove an Ambulance here in NC and in Mass for almost 30 years. What the law says and what actually happens in court are 2 different things. Use some common sense. Running emergency Traffic doesn’t give you the absolute right of way. You can’t go through red lights lights and sirens blaring.

  • Steve

    Don’t worry people…I’ve been driving an EMS/FDNY ambulance for 25 years thru red lights
    I also knew if I got into an accident I would have been screwed by FDNY ‘you ARE supposed to stop and then proceed with due regard’ Sometimes you have to say F**k the rules to save a life’

  • mikenyc

    1104. Authorized emergency vehicles. (a) The driver of an authorized
    emergency vehicle, when involved in an emergency operation, may exercise
    the privileges set forth in this section, but subject to the conditions
    herein stated.
    (b) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle may:
    Proceed past a steady red signal, a flashing red signal or a stop
    sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe
    operation. so yes they do not have to stop technically but must abide by some rules. was this done? in this case the investigation will determine that. no paper or news agency every gets the truth, they get a bunch of facts right or wrong and write an article. read the article in the WSJ. the wall street journal states in one section fdny spokesman told them the fire truck was in violation of law. the wall street journal then states fire dept spokesman would not comment citing on going investigation. which is it wall street journal? everyone with hold judgement until the facts are out. stop broad banding all fire fighters as reckless drivers, etc, etc, etc.

  • Guest

    I think Ugh #2 can better answer this question. I was told that first responders who drive recklessly or dangerously to an accident or crime scene may be outside the scope of their employment, and therefore they would not be covered by sovereign immunity if they were to be sued for any deaths or injuries resulting from their actions. So besides the safety of the general public and the 911 callers, they might think about this as well the next time they respond to a 911 emergency.

  • Guest

    The NYS VTL does not require emergency vehicles to come to a complete stop. It only requires that they proceed slowly and safely through intersections. Please see NYS VTL Section 1104(b)(2).

  • Guest

    How much rescue can any emergency personnel get done if they get into a serious accident on the way to a rescue? I agree with Ziggy. Don’t risk lives to save a life. I have seen it many times when emergency vehicles travel down local streets at very high rate of speed to a accident or crime scene. Is it really necessary to put other innocent lives at risk to respond to an emergency? Here I agree with Ugh 2. The difference in arrival time would be minimal and one can get back up to speed.

  • JoeZ

    Sam, hope a red light doesn’t prevent a fire engine from putting out a fire at your house.
    They are emergency vehicles, which should be able to proceed without hinderance from someone who is not paying attention. And stopping at a red light on the way to a fire is total stupidity on behalf of the idiots who wrote that law.

  • Pete

    NYS VTL doesn’t require that an emergency vehicle come to a full stop, BUT it does have to make sure its safe to go through the light, or to violate any of the other VTL laws the driver chooses to break.

  • Mr. Armenia

    The NYC Fire Dept needs to punished as allowed by law.

    I have seen a firetruck and an ambulance speed thru the Greenridge Shopping Plaza in Staten Island with sirens blaring going past numerous vehicles to just park in the fire lane of McDonalds when they would then turn off their lights and go inside and get dinner.

    • Rugbyball

      @Mr.Armenia if your statement is true, report them. If you don’t, then you have admitted you are ok with it.
      Don’t complain about something you are not willing to put an effort to stop.

      • Mr. Armenia

        If it happens again rugbybasll I will do so

  • idontbelieveit

    I did not know there was a law that requires fire engines to stop at a red light, even though they are trying to get to their destination of emergency.

    As a pedestrian, not a driver, I usually thought if the fire engine stopped at the red light with siren blaring and lights flashing, that they are not in such a hurry, and might have walked across the street anyway. I always see them running the red light.

    Now i know; unfortunately from a tragedy like this.

  • Linda

    Why can’t FD and PD have some type of Mobile Infrared Transmitter installed in their vehicles that would turn traffic lights green when they are traveling to an emergency. Stopping for red lights on an emergency run is ridiculous.

    • Stephen

      Stopping for red lights is essential because of the vast array of idiots on the roads. Next time an emergency vehicle sails past you, make a mental note of the number of drivers who (i) fail to give way or (ii) chase the damn thing. If the average driver could be trusted to pay attention and do the right thing, perhaps these vehicles could be allowed more grace.

    • a. shapiro

      Many departments have the infra red system but they are not 100% tecnologoically fail proof. Just last week an intersection accident occured with a Canadian fire department that uses this system. The details are currently under investigation.
      In any case NYS law says, and common sense indicates, that emergency vehicles must stop at red. One can understand the firefighters sense of urgency but even if they don’t come to a FULL stop you cannot justify blowing through especially without a definite 100% “all clear”. Every FDNY chauffeur is trained about this and it is a highly discussed issue throughout the fire service generally. There is NO excuse or rationale to logically defend a failure of judgement of this magnitude.
      My prayers go out to all the victims including the FDNY chaffeur.

  • Ziggy

    They violated the first rule of rescue – YOU DO NOT RISK MORE LIVES TO SAFE A LIFE!

  • bob

    And when they don’t stop people die also. Even if coming to a complete stop and looking both ways when on an emergency run may be ridiculous, blowing through a red light or stop sign with lights and sirens on is simply irresponsible.

  • redlightgreenlight123

    To those saying its the FD’s fault, say that the next time you call 911 and they can’t get there in time. They have sirens and lights for a reason, and by law if you hear sirens, you pull to the side and stop. Of course the truck is going to run the light, do you expect them to stop and wait for the light to turn green??? Seriously??!!!

    • Gr8fulheart

      Exactly! Whatever happened to being responsible drivers who listen for sirens and watch for flashing lights? As I commented below, I have an adult child with intellectual disabilities and those van drivers are typically very young and they listen to loud radio music with no regard for their passengers and no respect for emergency vehicles. We need a NY state law that prohibits radios in vehicles carrying the elderly and the disabled.



    • Concerned

      Maybe the driver of the firetruck was diabled due to alcohol or drug use. The driver should have been tested immediately for drug or alcohol use due to the fact there was a fatality for no reason…Car fire ?? Where were these firefighters coming from? The firehouse is located close to the S.I.expressway, yet these guys were headed north…..south west of the firehouse….They were Probably out shopping for the party they were going to have, with all the basketballl ganes they were going to watch on TV at the firehouse…..

    • Gr8fulheart

      You are so right and I completely agree with you! I’m the parent of an adult child with disabilities and those van drivers are notorious for listening to loud radio music while driving. We parents report them to transportation supervisors with no results. It’s time for a NY state law that disables radios of vans carrying the elderly or disabled population!

  • Ugh #2

    Sorry, you are incorrect, they need to stop and look at red lights, it is law, and just FYI, I am PD, I stop, and trust me, I can get back up to speed and in the end I will get there the same time whether I stop or not, you can not just run the light or sign, I am not going to go into the logic behind this. If a match can go from a match to a engulfed room in 60 seconds, please, they have not even left the FD house in 60 seconds. The FD PD and EMS can not help you if they crash and get hurt or killed.

  • Ugh

    And I support FD, PD and EMS, but if they did in fact run the light and kill somebody and critically injure others, bad.

  • Ugh!

    Expensive lesson! And running a light to get to a freaking car fire? By the time they got there the car would have been gone anyway.

  • Mike

    That’s ridiculous. If Fire Engines stopped completely at red lights many more people would die every year. a fire can go from match light to totally engulfed room in under sixty seconds, Just watch any cheesy FD video from the 80′

    • Sam

      Red lights are for stopping, not for some but for ALL.

      • Rugbyball

        @Sam, thats true for NYS, but not all states in the USA.

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