A 17-year veteran of Lake Travis Fire Rescue suffered an unknown medical condition Wednesday afternoon that caused him to lose consciousness and crash a fire truck into oncoming traffic, the department said in a statement Thursday morning.
Engineer William Tatsch was driving the fire truck on RM 620 back to the fire station around 1:40 p.m. Wednesday when he lost consciousness and veered into the northbound lanes of traffic, striking five vehicles, Texas Department of Public Safety and Lake Travis Fire Rescue officials said.
Fire officials said Tatsch had no history of medical emergencies in his two decades with the department.
“The Lake Travis fire fighters are very concerned with his health,” the department said in the statement. “Our primary concern now is with the civilians who were involved in the collision, their families, and the health of the four LT firefighters who were injured.”
Twelve people were involved in the crash, which happened north of Comanche Trail in western Travis County. After it struck the vehicles, the fire truck rolled and landed in a ditch in a fiery crash that shut down RM 620, which remained closed Thursday morning.
At least nine people were injured, including four Lake Travis Fire Rescue firefighters, DPS officials said. One driver was airlifted to Dell Seton Medical Center with serious injuries, officials said, five were taken by EMS to hospitals and two refused treatment.
Three of the firefighters were released from the hospital Wednesday night, however Tatsch remained in the hospital on Thursday being treated for his medical condition, authorities said.
Tatsch will undergo medical testing today to determine what caused the emergency, fire officials said.
The other firefighters injured were Lt. Rachel Zambrano, a 19-year veteran who suffered a concussion and received stitches in her forehead, officials said. The other two have been identified as Brian Baker and Joel Niemeyer, both 11-year veterans, who were treated for minor injuries and released, the department said.
DPS is continuing to investigate the crash.
7:20 p.m. update: A Lake Travis fire truck driver on Wednesday afternoon suffered a medical emergency and lost consciousness, causing him to veer into oncoming traffic and resulting in a fiery crash that sent at least nine people to the hospital, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.
The crash happened at around 1:40 p.m. Wednesday on RM 620 north of Comanche Trail in western Travis County.
DPS troopers and Lake Travis Fire Rescue officials say the fire truck was traveling south on RM 620 when its driver had a medical emergency and lost consciousness.
The fire truck veered into the northbound lanes of traffic and struck five other vehicles, before it rolled and landed in a bar ditch, DPS said.
The engine, carrying four firefighters, rolled over before stopping, said Lake Travis Fire Rescue Batallion Chief Michael Prather. Two firefighters were able to get out of the engine, with one firefighter checking on civilian injuries and calling for resources while the other firefighter got a third crew member out of the truck, Prather said. The fourth firefighter was caught in his seat belt and was assisted by crew member from another fire engine.
Prather said three of the four firefighters are being treated for lacerations and contusions. They were expected to be released Wednesday night. The fourth firefighter was listed in stable condition and will be monitored overnight, Prather said.
One of the other drivers involved in the crash was airlifted to Dell Seton Medical Center with serious injuries, officials said. Other victims were treated after being struck by debris that flew from the fire truck or hospitalized with injuries not expected to be life-threatening, officials said.