PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence Deputy Assistant Fire Chief Brian Mahoney says an incident Tuesday morning serves as the perfect reminder of why fire trucks are called to scenes other than fires.
Around 1:15 a.m. Tuesday, Rhode Island State Police responded a rollover crash on I-95 in Providence.
Police say according to eyewitnesses, a 2013 Infiniti was heading north near the Atwells Avenue overpass when the driver apparently lost control, crossed all lanes of traffic, struck the concrete barrier and rolled over, leaving the car on its roof in the high-speed lane.
The driver then ran off, according to police.
Moments later, troopers received a report of a car striking a Providence fire engine that had responded to the rollover crash. Police say the truck was parked in the northbound lanes of I-95 with its emergency lights activated when it was hit.
Part of Engine 3’s bumper got ripped off, according to Mahoney, and it’s now in the repair shop being assessed. He said while fire trucks carry equipment that may be needed at a crash scene, they’re there for another important reason.
“Sometimes, we do block the roads or block some of the lanes but it’s to protect the victims of the accident as well as our members,” Mahoney explained. “If it wasn’t for our truck being there, that car would have plowed right into the accident scene that was on the highway.”
Mahoney said it’s frustrating when people don’t slow down or become distracted when passing by emergency scenes.
“We’re there trying to help somebody and it’s a dangerous position to get on the highways,” he said. “It’s a perfect example of why we do put trucks on the highway to block the accident because especially late at night, there are a lot of people out there that maybe shouldn’t be on the road and while they’re operating on the scene, they need to be protected to help the victims of that initial accident.”
According to Mahoney, it wasn’t the first time Engine 3 has taken a hit. He said in its 20 or so years in service, vehicles have collided with it on scenes before.
Despite getting hit, the engine was still usable and responded to numerous other calls Tuesday morning, Mahoney said.
No one was injured in the fire truck collision, according to state police. They said the driver who crashed into the truck is facing multiple charges including DUI.
Emmanuel D. Cabrera, 31, of Cranston, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor/drugs (first offense, blood alcohol content unknown) and refusal to submit to a chemical test.
He also was issued a citation for conditions requiring reduced speeds involving an emergency vehicle.
Police said Cabrera is due in court next month.