July 4th 2009, Decatur County-- 38-year-old Denise Stevens and 21-year-old Tyler Houk were seriously injured after being struck by an unmanned fire truck at Lake Santee during a 4th of July celebration. (Lake Santee is located near Greensburg, Indiana.)
According to witness accounts, Denise Stevens was attempting to provide aid to Mr. Houk after he had slipped off the tailgate of a pick-up truck. Mr. Houk struck his head on the pavement and was knocked unconscious. Mrs. Stevens is a certified CNA and was adminstering aid to Mr. Houk while emergency services were contacted.
The first to arrive on the scene was the Clarksburg Volunteer Fire Department. As fire rescue personnel approached the scene, it was quickly determined that Mr. Houk needed additional medical equipment to stabilize his condition. While retrieving the equipment from the truck, the truck accelerated for unknown reasons and ran over Mrs. Stevens and Mr. Houk.
Witnesses further confirmed that as they stood around Mr. Houk and Mrs. Stevens they heard a revving of the engine followed by the unfortunate collision with the two pedestrians. Mrs. Stevens' husband, Robert Stevens was one of the witnesses standing near his wife when the fire truck engaged.
"There was a loud couple of revs and I turned just in time to see the truck. I didn't have time to do anything but jump out of the way," reported Mr. Stevens.
Mrs. Stevens and Mr. Houk were both left with serious injury. Mr. Houk had suffered a skull fracture from his initial fall. After being struck by the fire truck, he suffered a serious break to his leg as well as lacerations that required grafting. Mrs. Stevens was dragged approximately 143 feet after becoming tangled in the axel and steering rod. (Ultimately the fire truck came to rest after striking a car driven by Joann Delay of Greensburg.) Mrs. Stevens suffered mutiple fractures to her hip, leg and ankle, as well as a lacerated gall bladder.
Additional rescue personnel were summoned to the scene to help free Denise from beneath the fire truck. She was entangled in the truck for approximately 90 minutes.
At this point it is unlcear if the fire truck was chocked. Chocking is a procedure whereby a block/wedge device is placed in front of the tires of a fire truck so that it cannot roll forward once it is exited.
Investigators are still trying to determine what, if any, mechanical failure may have caused the fire truck to break away unmanned.
Tyler Houk was listed in serious condition at Methodist Hospital. Denise Stevens was also taken to Methodist Hospital and was last reported to be in ICU.
Any additional witness accounts should be reported to Keller & Keller LLP's Indiana Accident News Site.