This morning’s Washington Post article by Matt Zapotosky on the deadly ambulance wreck in Prince George’s County highlights conflicting information about the collision coming from the chief spokesmen for PGFD and PGPD. At issue is the speed of the SUV that struck Ambulance 826:
Maj. Andrew Ellis, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County police department, said that the initial investigation indicates excessive speed was not a factor and that there were no immediate indications that alcohol or drugs were involved.
But Mark Brady, a fire department spokesman, said speed was an obvious factor, pointing to the distance the SUV traveled, the extensive damage to the ambulance and the ambulance’s dashboard camera video as evidence. Brady declined to release that video, saying county police had asked the fire department not to do so while the investigation continues.
“I’ll go on record as saying speed certainly was a factor in the crash,” he said.
Ellis refuted some media reports that said the SUV was going more than 100 mph. He said that he discussed speed calculations with the accident investigator and that the suggestion the SUV was going that fast was “absolutely absurd.”
It was an horrific scene on the 5600 block of Marlboro Pike: an SUV torn to pieces and a few yards away, an ambulance ripped apart.
Remarkably the two firefighters in the ambulance, 22 year old Ed Godwin and 27 year old Kelli Kivett, walked away from the crash early Thursday morning. However, the 3 men inside the SUV died instantly. Atolvise Jones said her friend, 30 year old Emmanuel Jones, was a father of two live. He lived with his parents just a half a mile away from the crash scene.
“I was trying to call him around 3 this morning and the phone kept going to voice mail,” she said, “and then I saw the news and I thought, I hope that’s not him.”
Jones was traveling with his cousin, 22 year Andre Watley and friend 35 year old Tony Burney both of DC. Firefighters said dramatic video from the ambulance’s dash board camera showed the seconds before the crash: Jones’ SUV barreling down the wrong side of the street straight toward the ambulance which was operating with it’s lights and sirens.
“Almost in a blink of an eye the vehicle was on top of him,” said PG County Fire and Rescue spokesperson Mark Brady. The 22 year old firefighter swerved to avoid a head-on collision. It was a split second decision that saved his and his partner’s lives. Thankfully, the ambulance was not carrying any patients at the time. It had just pulled out of the station, a couple of blocks from the scene, to respond to an overdose call a mile away.
“I’m quite confident, with the excessive speed the truck was traveling, that if it were a head on collision there would have been fatal injuries.”
It was a close call for the firefighter family and a devastating morning call for the victim’s family and friends. “I’m hurt and I’m shocked,” said Jones, “he’s not supposed to be dead right now.”
Police continue to investigate whether drugs or alcohol played factors in the crash.