Emergency crew unhurt after vehicle hits fire engine on Glenn Highway
Emergency crews and bystanders escaped injury when a vehicle plowed into a Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department engine on the Glenn Highway Sunday morning.
Chief Clifton Dalton said the incident happened in the inbound lanes of the Glenn near the North Eagle River exit at around 10:25 a.m. The engine was on the scene of a separate vehicle accident and had parked in the righthand lane. Dalton said a man driving a red Suburban struck the engine from behind.
“He hit it pretty hard,” Dalton said.
Dalton — who was not on scene at the time of the wreck — said personnel who were there were counting their blessings in the wake of the harrowing crash.
“We’re super lucky,” he said. ”We were very, very fortunate.”
Dalton said the man who struck the engine was evaluated at the scene and released. The incident is still under investigation.
Assistant chief Virginia McMichael said she was just about to go to church when she heard the radio traffic about the incident. She immediately went to the scene, and when she found out there were no serious injuries, she said her first thought was to give thanks.
“I said, ‘I’m going back to church,’” she said.
Dalton said the purpose of parking the engine to block the right lane where personnel were working on the first accident is protection. In this case, it was needed.
“The engine obviously did its job,” he said.
Crews have been busy over the past few days responding to numerous calls along the Glenn Highway, where vehicles have found themselves in ditches with regularity since snow and near-freezing temperatures arrived Friday.
“It’s pretty slick out there,” McMichael said.
The asphalt on the Glenn Highway is rutted where it’s worn away from traffic, which makes driving doubly difficult when roads get slick, she said.
“Those ruts do not help, they’ve been pulling people around,” she said.
By far the biggest factor in the highway chaos, she said, is speed.
“They’re driving too close, they’re driving too fast,” she said. “People just do not slow down.”
Both McMichael and Dalton said they think the engine is likely totaled. The pick-up truck was definitely destroyed, with photos showing most of its back half peeled back like a sardine can.
Dalton said the engine was valued at around $500,000. It’ll likely cost more than that to replace. He said the department recently ordered a new engine for $800,000.
“It certainly came at a cost,” he said of the wreck.
This is a developing story; check back for updates