Mike Wilbur

Police: WV Fire Apparatus Crash ‘100 Percent Avoidable’

SHORT GAP, WV— No charges were filed Monday after a vehicle accident involving a fire truck and police cruiser on state Route 28 that left two firefighters and a prisoner with minor injuries.

The accident occurred in Short Gap near the Division of Highways garage, Ridgeley Police Chief Jake Ryan said Tuesday.

Minutes earlier, volunteer firefighters throughout the area had been dispatched to a garage fire on nearby Cherish Lane, and Ridgeley Officer Ed Pfaff had finished processing a drunken driving suspect he arrested earlier in the day.

“Officer Pfaff was taking the prisoner to Keyser for a hearing before a Mineral County magistrate,” Ryan said. “He rounded a curve and was behind a Wiley Ford fire department brush truck that had slowed for traffic.”

Pfaff couldn’t get stopped and rear-ended the brush truck that had suddenly slowed for traffic, the chief said. The accident occurred in an area where a road maintenance project has slowed traffic in recent days.

The prisoner, who was handcuffed from the front and was a rear-seat passenger at the time of the crash, was taken by ambulance to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center for medical evaluation.

“He was treated and released. We issued him citations and released him,” said the chief, who also responded to the accident scene.

On its Facebook page, the Wiley Ford department said the two firefighters would “be sore for a while, but they will be okay.”

“I spoke to the West Virginia state trooper investigating the crash and then took Officer Pfaff back to the police station,” said Ryan, who also conducted an internal investigation of the matter.

The chief said Pfaff was returned to his scheduled work days without interruption.

“Officer Pfaff will also undergo some remedial police emergency vehicle training. I just think it is a good idea and a policy that we will adopt for any of our officers who are involved in a crash involving their police vehicle,” he said.

Pfaff’s police cruiser was towed from the scene with extensive front end damage. It has been replaced in the police fleet by a back-up Ford Explorer.

“All of the events that occurred were 100 percent avoidable. It was a chain of events and we got caught up in the midst of it,” said Ryan.

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