VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — TUESDAY UPDATE: One Valdosta firefighter is now out of the hospital and two other firefighters and a police officer remain. This, after being injured on the job. Valdosta Fire Department Chief, Brian Boutwell, said "all personnel operated on scene just as we always do following protocol it was just a tragic event that occurred that was unforeseen."
A downed power line from a strong thunderstorm…something first responders are used to dealing with. "Firefighters arrived on scene along with law enforcement to try to secure the scene and make it safer," Boutwell said in a press conference Tuesday.
Like any other Monday afternoon when it happened, the traffic on Madison Highway was being directed through...until a semi-truck accidentally picked up one of the downed wires…causing a utility pole to break and shoot across the road...striking four first responders. Boutwell added "we've run thousands of calls on lines down, lines in the road, especially that are storm related."
One firefighter was released last night from South Georgia Medical Center but the other three first responders who's years of service range from 16 to just 1 year in the department, are still being treated at SGMC. One firefighter is being observed for injuries and the police officer has suffered facial injuries. One firefighter's injury was so grave his leg had to be amputated below the knee on scene.
Valdosta Chief of Police, Leslie Manahan, said "this is a tragic situation and it shows the family that we have in the city and the community support we've been getting is incredible and our prayers and thoughts are really with the families right now."
Both departments say they've never seen anything like this before in their time and this is the worst thing they've dealt with. If you would like to help, there is a fund accepting donations for the four first responders and their families at Guardian Bank in Valdosta to help with recovery expenses.
MONDAY: Four Valdosta first responders are in the hospital after responding to reports of a downed power line on Monday.
According to the City of Valdosta, on Monday, July 12, at approximately 4 p.m., the Valdosta Fire and Police Departments responded to a call of a power line down on Madison Highway near Dampier Street.
The City said upon the fire department’s arrival, a police officer was already on scene directing traffic around the downed line. As firefighters attempted to secure the scene, a semi truck drove near the line causing the power pole to fall and the pole struck on-scene personnel.
Three firefighters and one officer received injuries on the scene and were taken to South Georgia Medical Center for treatment.
One firefighter remains in the ICU and the other is still in the hospital undergoing care. The police officer also remains in the hospital being treated for injuries sustained in the accident.
The City says the responder's identities are being withheld for the families' privacy.