A Prince George’s County firefighter whose arm was severed in a Capital Beltway crash Wednesday has had his arm successfully reattached, and it may take weeks to determine what caused the crash, according to fire/EMS and police department officials.
As of Thursday morning, Volunteer Fire Lt. Ryan Emmons, 30, had undergone several surgeries and his arm was reattached, according to the West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire Department website.
Seven people, including four firefighters, were involved in the crash near U.S. Route 50 around 2:40 a.m. in Landover, fire officials said. Firefighters were leaving the scene of an earlier accident and began to make a U-turn using an emergency turn-around roadway on the Beltway, according to police and fire officials.
Prince George’s police said as the fire engine from the West Lanham Hills station slowed down to make the U-turn, a tractor-trailer rear-ended the engine. Both vehicles were sent through the cement median barrier into the northbound lanes and struck a Jeep sport utility vehicle, police said.
Four people riding in the fire engine, one from the tractor-trailer and two from the Jeep were injured, officials said.
All victims were transported to hospitals in non-life-threatening condition, according to fire and police officials, though the firefighter whose arm was severed remains hospitalized, according to the West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire Department website.
Lt. Bill Alexander, a county police spokesman, said he is unsure where the fire engine was heading after clearing the scene of the earlier accident.
“After arriving on scene, the volunteer firefighters determined no one was injured and cleared the scene. They then intended to make a U-turn using an emergency vehicle turnaround,” Alexander said. “The investigation suggests that as they were slowing, they were struck by a tractor-trailer that caused a cascading accident.”
Assistant Fire Chief Alicia Francis, a county fire/EMS spokeswoman, said the firefighters had left the earlier accident and were being placed on another call for another Beltway accident when they went to turn around and were struck.
Alexander said based on very preliminary reports, it appears as though the tractor-trailer was the “favored vehicle,” though he declined to explain the term’s meaning. Police have not yet assigned blame to either vehicle.
John Faran, a Greenbelt-based auto accident lawyer, said based on the Boulevard Rule, a U.S. traffic law followed by Maryland concerning certain vehicles having the right of way, a favored vehicle means the vehicle was operating their vehicle correctly.
“Under Maryland law, the favored vehicle does have the right of way,” Faran said.
Crews were on scene throughout Wednesday to assess the collision and remove debris.
Alexander said the lengthy investigation is due to the number of victims and size of vehicles involved.
“This will be a days- or weeks-long investigation as the collision analysis reconstruction unit takes a look at this,” he said.