Probe continues into aerial mishap that injured 3 firefighters

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The Erie Times-News

ERIE, Pa. — The Belle Valley Fire Department’s tower truck remains sidelined as investigators study the rig to find out what made its ladder close quickly while in use on Wednesday night, injuring three volunteer firefighters.

The firefighters, two from Belle Valley and one from the Wattsburg Hose Co., were in the truck’s bucket that was raised 80 feet outside of the Wattsburg Hose station when a cable snapped and the ladder suffered a “catastrophic failure,” according to information on Belle Valley’s website.

The ladder closed rapidly and came to a jolting stop, injuring the three firefighters and trapping one of them in the bucket.

They were repositioning a radio antenna at the time of the accident, officials said. The firefighters were taken to UPMC Hamot. One suffered a shoulder injury, one suffered a knee injury and one had an injured back, Belle Valley Fire Chief Chris Altadonna said Friday.

One of the Belle Valley firefighters was released from the hospital and the other was expected to be released Friday, Altadonna said. No information was available on the Wattsburg firefighter.

The truck’s ladder and bucket were heavily damaged in the accident, and the truck remains out of service indefinitely. Altadonna said Belle Valley will rely on mutual aid for calls that require a ladder.

Altadonna said officials don’t know what caused the tower to fail. The department has had no problems with the rig since it was purchased new for $1.2 million in 2010.

Representatives of the truck’s manufacturer, Sutphen Corp. of Columbus, Ohio, studied the truck on Wednesday. An insurance company still needs to do an investigation, and they will bring in an expert as part of the probe, Altadonna said. An independent investigator will also be involved, he added.

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(c)2014 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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