First responders become victims themselves

By Erica Quednau |

Published 11/13 2013 03:47PM

Updated 11/13 2013 03:51PM

PESOTUM -- Central Illinois' first experience with winter had emergency responders busy throughout the night. But, in one Champaign County, two volunteer firefighters became part of the emergency as victims. WCIA-3's Erica Quednau has more.

Monday night, the Pesotum Fire Department responded to a crash on I-57 at the Route 45 overpass. They were finishing up the call without injuries when, all of a sudden, they needed backup for themselves.

"It was rear-ended. There was entrapment."

It's the call no mom, dad or fire chief ever wants to hear; one of their own has been in an accident.

"Worst thing you ever want to happen."

Robert Russian is captain of the Pesotum Fire Department. He was called out to one of winter's first wrecks. It was their only call of the night.

"A pickup truck had gone into the median, flipped over and landed upright on the guard rail. When we arrived on scene, we found that there were no injuries at that wreck, at which time..." the unthinkable happened. "As we were getting back into our trucks to clear that call, then our fire engine was struck."

Two of Russian's colleagues were in that truck parked behind him on the side of the road.

"I was in our ambulance which we position in front of our fire truck so that our fire truck would be behind our ambulance protecting us, just in case something like this did happen."

Also protecting them, Scott's Law.

"A Chicago firefighter was killed while he was at a crash scene by a motorist who didn't yield or move over for the emergency scene. That law was passed to require motorists to yield or move over safely so that we are protected and that did not happen last night."

The driver of the car is OK. He was cited for violating Scott's Law. It means he could face a $10,000 fine and his license could be suspended. His passengers and the firefighters are all going to be OK.

It wasn't the only overnight accident. State police say there were 22 in fewer than 12 hours throughout most of the viewing area. Four people were hurt. The extent of those injuries is unknown.

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