Fire Truck Ran Light Before Van Crash: Report

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Staten Island Advance

    A fire truck that crashed into a van carrying disabled people, killing one, ran a red light before the collision, according to a published report.

    The Wall Street Journal said the fire truck did not come to a complete stop at the red light, which it is required to do. Fire vehicles responding to emergencies can proceed through red lights if the intersection is clear, but they must come to a full stop before doing so, the paper said.

    The crash killed 51-year-old Eric Perry, a source close to the investigation told NBC New York.

    Perry, a longtime resident of a state-run group home in Willowbrook, was a backseat passenger in the van when it was hit Wednesday afternoon.  The ladder truck was responding to a car fire when the collision occurred.
       
    Eight other occupants of the van were taken to Staten Island University Hospital, most of them believed to be special needs adults.  Two of the victims were listed in critical condition. 

    Police say the fire truck, from Ladder 81, had its siren on as it traveled down Richmond Road, toward the Staten Island Expressway. The van was making a left turn onto Richmond from Burgher Avenue when the fire truck crashed into its rear driver side door.

    Eyewitness Ali Alsaede, who saw the crash from about 15 feet away, told NBC New York that the fire truck's windshield shattered and the van spun around in a circle when they collided.

    Burgher Avenue reaches a dead end at Richmond Road, so the van had to make a right or left turn and could not speed forward to avoid the fire truck, Alsaede said.

    "Either the van had to go fast or the fire truck had to slow down, but the fire truck kept driving like there was nothing in front of him," said Alsaede.

    According to Alsaede, the fire truck appeared to be going about 25 to 30 miles per hour as it approached the intersection.

    "The fire truck could have easily slowed down or stopped and prevented the accident," said Alsaede.

    Alsaede got out of his car after the accident occurred to see if he could help, and spoke with the driver of the van. "He was panicked," said Alsaede.