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UPDATED with radio traffic: Three civilians killed in crash with Prince George's County, MD ambulance. Two firefighters from A826 to trauma center.


Slideshow of images from the scene by’s Emily Cyr

A tragic situation around midnight in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Three civilians were killed and two firefighters were injured when an ambulance and another vehicle collided. It happened in the 5600 block of Marlboro Pike in District Heights.    

PGFD Chief Spokesman Mark Brady says the two firefighters were sent to the trauma center due to the mechanism of their injuries.    

Here’s the official release from Brady at 2:20 AM-    

Just after midnight, Thursday, a Prince Georges County ambulance and a civilian vehicle were involved in a crash in the 5600 block of Marlboro Pike in District Heights. The crash resulted in 3 civilian fatalities and two Firefighter/Medics being transported to a Trauma Center.    

Photo by PGFD's Mark Brady

Ambulance 826 had just departed the Fire/EMS Station and was traveling west on Marlboro Pike en route to a overdose call on Tanow Place. Initial reports indicate that a GMC Suburban SUV was travelling east-bound in the west-bound lanes at a high rate of speed. The ambulance, with emergency lights on and siren sounding, had to swerve to avoid a head-up collision. The SUV side-swiped the ambulance and then hit a brick wall and utlity pole before coming to rest on it’s roof about 120 feet from where it first struck the ambulance.    

The three occupants of the SUV, adult males, were pronounced deceased on the scene. Two Firefighter/Medics were transported to a Trauma Center for evaluation but did not appear to have suffered any injuries.    

The ambulance sustained major damage from the crash in which the entire right side of the patient compartment was torn off.    

The Prince George’s County Police Department Accident Reconstruction Team are conducting the investigation.    

Billy Goldfeder at Firefighter Close Calls adds that the Suburban appeared to be traveling at around 100 MPH.


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  • an educated FF

    Wow, looking at that rig is scary. As a medic, I can only imagine what would have happened to me, my partner, or a patient in the back. Sounds like the FF’s escaped serious injury, and it’s a shame about the occupants of the SUV.
    It can happen any time, to any of us.
    Get well soon to the injured FF’s

  • Anonymous

    Hey Kristin, will you be doing follow up stories on the traffic inconvience of this mornings little mishap. I couldn’t help but notice that it got mention (twice)over the condition of the firefighters that were put though this tragedy.

  • Dumb Virginia Medic

    WOW! Glad to hear that the ambulance crew was OK, sorry about the SUV passengers but it sounds like they bought a one-way ticket to ride.

    No disrespect intended to PG, but having some experience in ambulance specification design and building, I’d suggest that PG officials look very carefully at the failure of the modular box during this crash. What made an immediate impression on me was the displacement of the right rear bulkhead away from the roof in the first picture of the slideshow and the total failure of the right wall. It’s obvious the module does not have a structural aluminum channel roll cage built into the understructure.

    Even if it did, it couldn’t have been welded because it failed on the right rear upper bulkhead corner as evident by the bulkhead pushing back. Although this was certainly a high impact collision, the complete failure of the module as shown means it would offer zero protection on lower speed intrusion impacts. If this ambulance turned over and rolled, I’ll bet the modular box would shear and collapse, just like an empty cardboard box because it would NOT be able to support the weight of the medium duty truck chassis it’s attached to.

    Additionally, in most ambulance collisions like this, you see the remains of box wall thermal insulation all over the road. None here?

    Who makes these ambulances for PG?

  • bert

    About 30 yeas ago t-26 was involved in a head on on the pike close to where this one occured.At the time they were using a reseve truck, old truck 2, it was an engine ahead segraves.The truck could have drove away, all three in car were killed doing about 1oo mph

  • Texas Gordo

    I don’t know what happened, and I’m glad that the medics were released from the trauma center (I’m guessing everyone on the box had their seat-belts on).

    I would leave the wreckage in the streets for several weeks and bring the students from local high schools to visit the scene. Young males, late at night, excessive speed, and the wrong side of the road, (possible some ETOH was in the drivers system, use this wreck as a learning lesson.

    I know this makes me an awful person for recommending this without knowing all the details, but watch a European PSA about driving safety, they are scarier than most of our actual accident scenes.

  • They are lucky no one was in back

    i thought those boxes were flimsy but OMG! granted it was struck by an SUV at approx 100mph but that shredded! It will never handle the force of being overturned. Hey International, time to redesign these units. HOLY CRAP!

  • Rake

    Given the time of night and speed of the vehicle I wonder about alcohol & drugs being a factor in the crash. Thank God the FFs escaped serious injury. A very, very close call…

  • Squirrel

    those ambulances were built by American LaFrance MedicMaster.

  • DJ

    The ambulances are American Lafrance “MedicMaster” units. That company is no longer in business.

    But hey, who cares about the destruction of the ambulance, the fact that if they had been transporting from and not responding to a call, the patient and care provider would be dead.

    Obviously, the huge traffic inconvenience on Marlboro Pike is the biggest issue. Makes me want to vomit.

  • Anonymous

    Yes it is a Tragic shame that an incident like this does occur.
    It was most unfortunate the untimely death of the three occupants in the SUV. I am personally happy and most grateful the personnal on A826 were spared serious injury. In reading some of the comments remarks concerning the make/structure of the Box Body. That occurrance could happen to any of the Manufactured Ambulance Box Bodys. ie;Medic Master, Horton just to name a couple build these Box Bodys to withstand some reasonable impact. Who knows what was going through the minds
    of the 3 fatalities. Good Lord rest their souls. The fault and concern should be focused upon why was that SUV Traveling at an excessive high rate of speed, on the wrong side. They had to had to seen the Ambulance coming towards them in their correct lane of travel. Red Lights Siren the size of the Ambulance it would seem with all common sense they should have seen the Ambulance coming. The autopsy will bring about any cause that may have played a roles in this tragedy. It wasnot a
    question of ambulance design and built. It appears to have been some sort of Human error on the part of the SUV. Who among us can Truthfully state with any degree of certainty the box body structure was in any way related to the outcome? Let us now step back and think was Alcohol,Controlled dangerous substance, Texting while operating a motor vehice, or perhaps did the Driver of the SUV may have been drowsy and fell asleep for an instant. The Investigation/autopsy will speak the truth and the results. How about now, let us all say a Prayer for our Personnel on A826. Come on people get it together. Back off
    any criticism.

    Have a Nice Day Everyone

    • dave statter

      What criticism? I think the reader, Dumb Virginia Medic, was making an observation on how the box withstood the crash. He/she seems to have some knowledge of how these units are built. I didn’t see any blame or name calling. It is the type of comment I like to encourage here. Questions and informed observations are a good thing. That’s how we all learn.

      Mr. Have a Nice Day Everyone, like everyone else, your comments and ideas are always encouraged. Your input and apparent loyalty to this site is much appreciated. But I have to tell you, I have been reading your comments for a long time and find them fascinating. I don’t think you have ever thought it appropriate that anyone should ever question authority or wonder aloud, even respectfully, if a better decision could be made in any situation.

      If you are really serious about your convictions and you are not putting us on, then my hat is off to you. But I am 180 degrees from you. I have always questioned how and why things are done a certain way and wonder how they can be improved.

      You always seem to point out the lack of respect people show in their criticism (and many times there is and I join you in hating it). But I am not sure you are showing respect when you try and shut down debate, conversation and the exchange of ideas saying there can only be one way and the boss always knows what he or she is doing. But then again, what the hell do I know?


  • What are the chances?

    It was about 25 years ago and was the SAME spot. 3 were killed then to. In that case the vehicle did a U-Turn in front of Tk26 and the vehicle was broad sided. And yes it was old truck 2. I was on the one with the truck and remember it like it was yesterday.

  • stuart

    I was very concerned about the BOX destruction as well. That can not be acceptable. This isn’t any criticism about anyone involved because they had nothing to do with the ambulance. There are some real problems with that box. I have seen pics of other ambulances that have exploded like that on impacts to the front end or front of boxes. It is a sure sign of poor construction. Every time I see one of these wrecks I start looking for the maker and how they make them. Spot wielding and single wall construction are usually part of the make up of these units.

    I have been in well constructed units that rolled and never even compromised an outside compartment. I have seen T boned ambulances that never compromised the patient compartment but killed the other driver and destroyed their vehicle. It is all about the quality of the build.

    I think this is an opportunity for PGFD personnel to bring attention to these rigs. Everyone has seen the effects of this impact. Now, use it to educate the public and the county leaders that this can’t be ok. Use it to find a new maker and get more personnel input into the process. We used to have to get what we got from the city, but once we took control of the specs things improved. We had department leadership that went to bat for us and got us more expensive BUT safer units. I KNOW it has saved lives. I hope something good can come from this terrible wreck. I hope that future patients and department personnel will live to see another day because of what changes after this wreck.

  • charlysangel

    I was shocked to hear the news of the accident this am. I was amazed at the devastation to both vehicles. The personal of 826 are extremely blessed and certainly had a cloud of protection around them.
    Prince George’s County has certainly suffered some tremendous losses over the past several years with the crash of Trooper 2, several police officers dying in the line of duty, and now this.
    Listening to the radio replay raises several questions. The main question is this:
    All the divisions of PG county work closely together and are one huge family. It does not matter if you have known them for 40 years or if you met them yesterday, they welcome you.

    WHY IN THE WORLD would anyone consider transporting them to a trauma center that is OUTSIDE of PG county?? Distance is not the answer. Med Star was not the closest trauma facility. That is somewhat disappointing in itself that the commanding officer on the scene would have made the decision to have them transported out of the county. The trauma center at PGHC know the medics of PG county well, they see them many times a day. PGHC works closely with PGFD and surely they consider the FD a member of their family. The What a shame!

  • Anonymous NoVA EngineDriver

    Texas Gordo…”I would leave the wreckage in the streets for several weeks and bring the students from local high schools to visit the scene. Young males, late at night, excessive speed, and the wrong side of the road, (possible some ETOH was in the drivers system, use this wreck as a learning lesson.”

    Great idea, unfortunately the top priority of this damn metro area is to keep CARS moving. That’s always a top news item, God forbid someone driving on Marlboro Pike between Midnight and let’s say 6am has to detour around the scene an extra 1/4 mile by going Pennsylvania Ave or Walker Mill Rd. (I just looked on googlemaps). I’d rather they skip that wortless bit of information on their report and roll right into an extra commercial for Empire Today flooring or Eastern Motors… not like we don’t see enough of that crap either.

    Back to the accident, I don’t feel sorry for anyone killed in the SUV. There is no reason to drive at such a high rate of speed. That could’ve been someone walking or riding a bike, or just minding their own damn business. Thank God for the quick reaction of the ambulance driver and taking quick action, and hopefully they’re both in good shape to enjoy a few relaxing days off.

  • Hercules

    Med Star is a Level 1 Trauma Center located 10.3 mile from the scene via PA Ave. PG Trauma is a Level 2 Trauma center located 10 mile via PA Ave. For the 0.3 mile difference and the increased level of care, the correct decision was made. Whether a hospital is located within the jurisdiction of the incident or not should never affect pt care. PG Medics and ambulances routinely go to WA, AA, La Plata, WHC, CNMC, and Howard.

  • Anonymous

    Some interesting things about ambulance construction have been pointed out. You know why you don’t see any insulation, because that would have cost more money. Everyone knows PG does not have any money to spend on simple things like that. The box is probably glued together much like pierce is, with a strong adhesive.

    MedStar or PG trauma……ummmm medstar thank you

  • Shaun

    Why would you not want to get them the best care possible? PG is a level II trauma center, where MedSTAR is a level I trauma center. Not saying that PG couldnt handle it, just the best. Glad to see the brothers are OK, and my condolences to the families that lost their loved ones

  • Hercules

    Pt transport destination is not decided by the commanding officer. EMS Ops would have a say in pt transport during a MCI. However, this was not an MCI and ultimately the decision on where to transport lies with the provider with pt care and the hospital receiving the pt. In the case of the two transported firefighter/medics, Med Star was contacted through EMRC and accepted pt care. Hopefully this answers the “WHY IN THE WORLD” question.