Vehicle hits fire truck on Thruway

FULTONVILLE – The Fultonville Volunteer Fire Department encountered more than it expected when it responded Wednesday to an emergency on the Thruway.

At about 6:30 a.m. the volunteer crew was tending to a vehicle that slid off the roadway due to icy conditions. Chief Tom Crosier said the crew was getting ready to leave the scene when a box truck struck a guardrail, tipped onto its side and slid into the department’s fire truck, which was parked on the side of the Thruway.

State police spokesman Jason Jones said the accident occurred on the eastbound lane of the Thruway, just before exit 28.

Milton Cooper, 43, of Syracuse, was driving a rental box truck carrying produce when he attempted to move to the left lane and lost control, police said.

Jones said the slippery road conditions were a contributing factor in the accident.

Crosier said the fire truck suffered extensive damage and had to be towed from the scene. He believes the truck is “pretty close to totaled.”

No major injuries were reported and no tickets were issued, he said.

He said a firefighter who was in the truck at the time of the accident was sent to the hospital as a precaution, but didn’t sustain any serious injuries.

“It could have been a lot worse than what it was,” the chief said.

The firefighter driving the truck was George Donaldson, who said people need to be more cautious when approaching emergency vehicles on the Thruway.

“People need to learn that when you see these red and flashing lights the law means you have to slow down and pull over,” Donaldson said. “People were flying by us at 65 to 70 mph while we are out there trying to take care of an accident scene. The troopers are busy investigating so they can’t necessarily get in their vehicle and chase all these people down. The public needs to start waking up.”

This is the second recent accident involving an emergency vehicle being struck while working on the Thruway.

Last month, a 35-year-old New York state trooper was killed in a wreck on the Thruway in Amsterdam.

Trooper David W. Cunniff died after a tractor-trailer truck slammed into his patrol car and a car he had pulled over for speeding.

In January 2012, the “move over” law was put into effect to protect law-enforcement officers, emergency workers, tow and service-vehicle operators and other maintenance workers stopped along roadways while carrying out their duties.

Drivers are supposed to reduce their speed when approaching an emergency vehicle that displays emergency lighting. If possible, drivers must move from the lane immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle.

Jones agreed that people need to be observant and cautious when passing emergency vehicles.

“It is common sense,” Jones said. “When there is activity on the side of the road with emergency lights flashing, people need to move over, and if they can’t they really need to slow it down and give courtesy to the people on the scene.”