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.