The family of Jesse Austin Trader, a firefighter who was killed in August 2013 when his water truck crashed during the Big Windy Complex wildfire, has filed suit against the federal government, two Josephine County businesses and Trader’s uncle claiming negligence and seeking $5 million.
Filed July 7 in U.S. District Court in Medford, the suit alleges the defendants were negligent in Trader’s death for reasons that include improper inspections on the nearly 50-year-old International Harvester truck, loading the truck beyond its posted capacity and directing Trader to drive the overloaded truck downhill.
Daniel Trader, Jesse Trader’s uncle and co-owner of the 1966 truck, had performed the vehicle’s annual safety inspection report four months prior. The suit alleges that Daniel Trader issued an “erroneous report” that overlooked the truck’s deficient brakes, inadequate baffling and an incorrect posted weight, which have been cited as causes of the crash in a report issued by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry.
The crash occurred about 7:20 a.m. Aug. 6 near Soldier Camp on Bear Camp Road, a mountainous, twisting route from Galice to the coast. Firefighters who witnessed the crash smelled burning brakes and observed smoke from beneath the truck as it gathered speed before hitting an embankment and rolling over, the suit says. Jesse Trader, a 2012 South Albany High School graduate, had obtained his commercial driver’s license only a week before the crash, according to news reports at the time.
When fully loaded, the truck weighed 55,320 pounds — more than 10 percent above the manufacturer’s maximum listed 50,000 pounds, news reports said. The vehicle had brakes only on its rear axle. It’s unknown for certain whether Jesse Trader was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, but he wasn’t wearing a seat belt when he was extricated from the vehicle, a 2014 Associated Press report says.
The suit alleges negligence against Oregon businesses Dutch Mining, Security Guys LLC, Security Guys Inc., Daniel Trader individually and the U.S. government.
The family is seeking $5 million for burial costs, wages Jesse Trader would have accumulated had he lived to his full life expectancy, and the mental pain and suffering Jesse Trader endured in the moments prior to his death.
A Brooklyn firefighter broke his back when his firetruck plunged into a sinkhole that area residents say has been a recurring problem for years that the city has failed to properly fix.
Lt. Brendan Connolly, 41, of Engine Co. 236 was hospitalized after the rig he was in struck the 10-by-10-foot crater at Chestnut and Etna streets in Cypress Hills at about 10 a.m. on Aug. 1 while responding to a medical call.
The jolt left him with a broken vertebra, a relative said. He needs a back brace and cane to walk and faces a long rehab, with his return to the job in question.
Antonio Torres, 78, said he was sitting outside his Etna Street home when he heard a boom and saw the firetruck screech to a halt. Chaos ensued as several other firetrucks arrived, and firefighters loaded Connolly onto a board.
Another witness, Lissette Martinez, recalled the horrifying scene.
“We thought the firefighter died,” said Martinez, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1993. “It’s really sad that this poor firefighter had to go through this because of this sinkhole.
“Until they really fix it the right way, it’s going to happen again.”
A second firefighter was also injured in the accident, FDNY officials said. Both men were taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
Connolly was discharged from the hospital Aug. 3.
Neighbors, meanwhile, called the sinkhole an accident waiting to happen.
“It was damaged before, and they fixed it, but they did a bad job,” one resident fumed.
Martinez said: “This is outrageous. It could have been anybody — kids crossing the street, kids on a bike.”
Two days after the crash, the city Department of Environmental Protection, which checked water and sewer pipes, filled the hole, which it called a “roadway depression.”
“If it wasn’t because of what happened, it would have never been fixed,” Martinez said.
“It looks like it’s starting to open up again.”
Members of Engine Co. 236 declined to discuss the crash — except for one, who said he wasn’t surprised.
“Have you ever seen the roads around here?” he said.
Jake Lemonda, head of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, noted that responding to any emergency can be dangerous for firefighters.
“Oftentimes, they cannot foresee the dangers that lie ahead of them — including sinkholes,” Lemonda said.
Two firefighters were injured Friday afternoon when a Franklin County Fire Department ladder truck collided with a Harrod Concrete truck on Versailles Road.
The fire truck was responding to a call when the crash occurred, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
The firefighters’ injuries were minor and the driver of the concrete truck was not injured, Sheriff Pat Melton said.
The fire truck and the concrete truck collided at the intersection of Versailles Road and Chenault Road.
As the fire department’s ladder truck was pulling out of Chenault Road with lights and sirens activated, a tractor trailer was in the slow lane on Versailles Road, Melton said. The tractor trailer prevented the driver of the fire truck and the driver of the concrete truck, which was in the passing lane of Versailles Road, from seeing each other.
The sheriff’s office is handling the investigation of the crash, but at this time no charges are anticipated, Melton said.
The intersection was re-opened by 6 p.m. Thursday.
“We’re just thankful that everybody is okay,” Melton said. “It could have been much worse. We’re just blessed that it was as minor as it was.”
Replacements will likely be called in to cover the firefighters that were injured for the rest of their shift, Melton said. The city of Frankfort is planning to lend the county a reserve ladder truck until damaged vehicle can be repaired.
oquitlam RCMP and Fire and Rescue were on scene Friday to deal with a shooting that turned into a fiery multi-scene incident.
Just before 6 p.m., police responded after reports came in about shots being fired from one vehicle to another around Guildford Drive and Johnston Street.
Police located a victim a short distance away on Lansdowne Dr., where an ambulance took the victim to hospital with non-serious injuries.
Shortly after, police found the suspect vehicle fully engulfed in flames on Charter Hill Road. Coquitlam Fire and Rescue arrived on the scene, but before the fire could be put out, the engulfed truck rolled down a hill and crashed into a fire truck.
A video shows the dramatic moment authorities ran from the flames in fear the fire truck would catch fire.
RCMP are now investigating the three locations. There is currently no one in custody and no suspect description available.
They ask anyone who may have witnessed any of the incidents to contact police