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UPDATED: PGFD/West Lanham Hills VFD Lt. Ryan Emmons went back into surgery Wednesday night after arm reattached. New details from surgeon & police after Beltway crash.

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Earlier coverage

West Lanham Hills VFD website

West Lanham Hills VFD Facebook page

Thirty-year-old West Lanham Hills VFD Lt. Ryan Emmons, who had his arm reattached below the elbow after the fire engine he was in overturned early Wednesday morning, went through more surgery Wednesday evening. Here are details from an update at 10:30 PM on the West Lanham Hills VFD Facebook page:

I know it’s late and this will be the last update of the night. A second surgery was needed a little bit ago (as many more will come). Ryan just came out of surgery and is being kept in the surgical ICU. The Dr. said the next 72 hours are the most critical. They had to take some veins from his legs to rebuild his veins in his arm. Keep the prayers coming everyone.

Twitter is lit up with “Lt Ryan Emmons #WLHVFD” so if you have it lets try to get it trending in this area so our prayers are heard.

Lt. Ryan Emmons.

A PGFD press release identifies the other three West Lanham Hill VFD members treated and released after the collision as Lieutenant Jack Lesqure, age 24, Lieutenant Michael Simmons, age 29, and Firefighter George Hirsch, age 22. According to news reports Ryan Emmons was just promoted to lieutenant over the weekend.

In a briefing Wednesday afternoon, Prince George’s County Police say the crash occurred when Engine 828 was leaving the scene of a collision near Route 50 and used an emergency crossover. Police Lieutenant William Alexander says the pumper did not use lights and siren as it made the u-turn and was struck in the rear by a tractor trailer. Lt. Alexander told WRC-TV/NBC4 that, “Preliminarily we believe the tractor trailer was the favored driver”.  (NOTE: The Washington Post, below, reports a different scenario of the crash from Chief Alter).


Dr. James Higgins, the head of the hand institute at MedStar Union Memorial and his team were ready and waiting for Emmons after they got word he was headed their way.

Dr. Higgins was one of the 16 surgeons who performed the first double-hand transplant in our area on Brendan Marrocco, an Iraq vet who lost all four limbs.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Prince George’s County Police released their preliminary findings on the accident which had the Beltway closed for hours, saying the fire engine was just leaving an accident call when it tried to make a U-turn at an emergency vehicle access point. Police say the engine collided with a tractor trailer, which sources say had the right of way. The two trucks slid into the median and hit a Jeep SUV. In all, seven people were hurt, including four firefighters.

Doctors credit Emmons’ colleagues for saving his arm by wrapping it on ice. So far his surgery was a success, but the coming days are critical.

Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post:

Lt. William Alexander, a police spokesman, said investigators believe that the firetruck was leaving the scene of a minor crash on the inner loop of the Beltway and was “intending to make a U-turn” through an emergency vehicle turnaround when the tractor-trailer hit it from behind. He said investigators initially believed that the tractor-trailer was the “favored vehicle,” although police had not yet assigned fault in the collision.

“It’s a very complex investigation,” Alexander said.

In legal cases in Maryland, “favored vehicle” typically refers to the one with the right-of-way.

Alter said he thought the firetruck was pulling up to the scene of the minor crash — slowing to about 10 or 15 mph with its emergency lights still on — when it was hit. He said the firetruck’s driver “saw the tractor-trailer coming and tried to put the fuel back on” but that his efforts were in vain.

The tractor-trailer pushed the firetruck nearly 100 feet along the Jersey barrier dividing the Beltway’s inner and outer loops, then crossed over the wall itself, Alter said.


Comments - Add Yours

  • Doug

    AlertPage has the full audio (prior to switching to B3).


    Looking at that picture of it on the trailer, you really have to appreciate how well the cab held up. Despite all the cool toys and features, that’s where your most important assets ride.


    First and foremost, thoughts and prayers to all involved. Secondly, I hope PG has insurance policies that will protect the income of the severely hurt firefighter. We had a vollie down here who was hurt several months ago in a apparatus accident and pretty-much lost everything. Her full-time job showed her the door due to the extended leave. Workman’s comp is paying for the reconstructive surgery and a little bit of salary but that’s about it. Pretty sad.

  • Dana Libby

    It is amazing how far safety design in apparatus has come in just a few decades. Had the same crash taken place 40 years ago with an open cab Engine and a person or two on the back step, the outcome would have likely involved a number of lost brothers. Tough days ahead for the the involved Firefighters, other citizens and their extended families, but thankfully no funerals. Prayers for quick healing and miracles in rehab!

  • WFDT

    MCFRS policy prohibiting use of interstate turnarounds has been validated.

    • Anonymous

      PGFD has had a long standing general order against the use of turn around a whether or not responding to calls.

  • Been There

    PG County is self insured, with supplemental policies for volunteers. Hopefully, the Fire Chief has already issued orders banning the use of emergency turn arounds except while actually responding to an incident. No excuse for using one to return to the station.

  • Anonymous

    Thoughs and Prayers to our Brothers from Engine 828, may you all have a speedy recovery.

  • Anonymous

    PGFD has had a policy in place for almost 7 years now prohibiting from using emergency cut outs for U turns for both emergency and non emergency purposes. The apparatus is to proceed to the next available exit to turn around. At NO time are we to use these because of this exact reason.

    • O cool

      Yeah, it was put in place after sq47 was rear ended trying to do the same thing. They even had there lights on. But not nearly as bad as this horrible incident.

  • Anonymous

    If I’m not mistaken the inner-loop is southbound and the outer-loop is northbound meaning that to access the turnaround the engine needed to be in the left lane. If this is true and the truck did in fact rear-end the engine.. I would like to ask what was the tractor-trailer doing in the left lane in the first place? I’d have to look up the exact regulation however I know many states have big signs that read “No trucks in left lane”. Furthermore shouldn’t the tractor-trailer driver have kept more of a distance? If I’m driving and the car in front of me stops short for whatever reason (most of the time it’s traffic) and I slam into him I am pretty sure it would be by fault.. so why is it different here?

    Also my prayers are with all those involved with the crash especially the men from Company 28

  • Some dude

    Something doesn’t add up here. The damage to the fire truck is on the wrong side if they were making a u-turn from the south bound lane. That means they would have to have been making a left exposing the drivers side of the rig. It looks to me like the impact is on the officer’s side rear. That’s impossible if they were busting a u-turn. Is there video of the crash from the state hwy camera’s? Another thing that stinks is why is PG County police releasing this info prior to the State Police findings? Come on Dave? Is this your first day? It’s Prince George’s County man…

    • dave statter

      I don’t do the reporting any longer. Just relaying what has been reported.

    • Rickey Rilley

      If they to the right before they made the left cut they could have been hit by a truck in the next lane over on the officers side.

  • David S.

    By law I’m sure that you are required to keep a distance of 500 ft from an emergency vehicle period . Anonymous you are correct in saying that no trucks can use the left lane at all on the beltway. My prayers go out to Ryan and the other ff’s. May I also say that after the pictures that I saw of the crash E281 was built in 1996 it held up great.

  • Wagondriver

    When men are in the hospital is not the time to Monday morning quarterback this thing on a public forum. Let’s save that for when the after-action /State/PG Police accident report is released. What happened to just relaying thoughts and prayers to all involved during a very tough time?

    • He

      Wagondriver, I agree. Lets wait for a couple months and see what the accident reports say. It would be silly and thoughtless for PGFD to IMMEDIATELY order that no apparatus is to use these turnarounds for ANY reasons, and violation of this order will result in IMMEDIATE termination. I, much like you, also prefer being REACTIVE instead of being PROACTIVE.

      There is no better time than NOW to save lives,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • Sharppointy1

    The facts of the accident wil come out in the report; no use speculating without all the facts.
    My concern is that Lt Emmons have a complete recovery of his arm’s function. Gratitude that this superb surgeon was available to reattach his arm. May Emmons have good pain control, world class nursing care, excellent physical therapy, good financial coverage, and be able to return to fire fighting in due time.

  • Wagondriver

    @He…Said nothing about putting rules in place to keep this from happening again. The point you seemed to miss was that when firemen are in the hospital, brothers and sisters, on a public forum, should be showing support…not assigning blame.

  • Some dude

    The point is that it seems that the PGFD could care less about the injured firefighters because they are volunteers. You don’t start dragging people through the mud while they have a brother in the hospital. They were far too quick to release information to make the firefighters look bad. There’s way more going on here.

    • John

      PG County and the Fire Chief are always looking for anything that will paint the volunteers as reckless, ruthless men and women; while at the same time always telling the press that we need them.

  • David S.

    When I was a vol with 28/48 some of us ie:paid&vol got along but a lot of us did not it seemed there was a battle between riding positions,who was going to drive the wagon and who was going to drive the s**** box.We still worked together put these various proplems that were never solved.PS: Im praying for Lt Emmons.