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Technicality saves DC firefighter from discipline after fire engine fatal crash

News report says engine sped through red light - Other driver drunk & high on PCP

Watch Paul Wagner’s report

According to DC Police, the fault for a fatal collision involving DC Fire and EMS Department’s Engine 26 last March is shared by both the driver of the fire engine and the man who died when his car was struck on Rhode Island Avenue Northeast. WTTG-TV reporter Paul Wagner says the U.S. Attorney’s Office determined the driver of the Honda Accord, Deangelo Green, was intoxicated and high on PCP at the time of the crash and did not yield to the responding fire engine.

A police report obtained by Wagner indicates that Firefighter Joseph Tate, behind the wheel of Engine 26, was going 24 mph above the 30 mph speed limit when a traffic signal on Rhode Island Avenue, Northeast turned red. The two vehicles collided in the intersection at 12th Street. Police calculated the speed of the fire engine at 40 mph at impact. Tate was not charged by DC Police.

According to reporter Wagner, Firefighter Tate faced the possibility of being fired because of his actions but avoided discipline because of a technicality.

Paul Wagner, WTTG-TV/FOX5:

The report – dated July 12 – places blame on both Tate and Green. Tate, it says, was driving too fast and not in compliance with the DC Fire Department’s protocol. Under the rules, the firefighter driving an engine or other fire apparatus should only exceed the speed limit by 10 mph when responding to an emergency call.

According to DC Fire Chief Gregory Dean, an unnamed official in the department failed to properly calculate the time needed to notify Tate that he would be disciplined. Under the union contract, with the deadline missed, the department had no right to recommend Tate for discipline.

Dean said Tate faced a possible penalty of termination if the charges were sustained.

Tate is still employed by the department, but is not allowed to drive any fire apparatus.

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