The truck was struck by a passenger train this afternoon in southwest Detroit. (David Guralnick / The Detroit News)
Detroit -- A top fire department official minced no words in criticizing a firefighter who parked a truck on a set of train tracks while responding to an accident. The fire truck was subsequently hit by a train.
"I'm very upset," said executive fire commissioner James Mack. "I'm going to make it known that this is not acceptable and we'll do some training."
The fire truck was crushed by a passenger train late this morning in southwest Detroit. The train resumed its trip to Chicago around 3:00.
The driver of the fire truck was injured when he ran back and tried to get his rig off the tracks. He was taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital and treated for a gash to his head, said Capt. Steve Kirschner, vice president of the Detroit firefighter's union. No other firefighters were injured.
Also, no serious injuries were reported aboard the train, though a female passenger was taken to a local hospital after complaining of neck stiffness, Mack said.
Officers from the Detroit Police Fatal Squad were on the scene, however.
The crash occurred in the city's southwest side near John Kronk and Lonyo, where police officers and firefighters were responding to an accident involving a car and a tractor trailer. For reasons that are unclear, the fire truck was parked on the train tracks.
Then someone was heard to have screamed: "Train coming!"
"The fire truck was parked right on the tracks," said Willfrido Gutierrez, 27, whose Monte Carlo was struck by the tractor trailer. "I tried to get my wife and kid away from there and I heard a huge explosion."
The truck, Ladder 13, was T-boned by the westbound train and crushed like an aluminum can and dragged a considerable distance before coming to rest on the tracks.
The same ladder truck had been involved in an accident earlier this year, but Mack was unsure if it was the same driver.
"It was a $600,000 truck," Mack said. "We're trained professionals. We should always be thinking. I don't think the citizens of Detroit are pleased that he parked on the tracks.
"I'm very upset. This was a disservice to the citizens. It's their fire truck -- they paid for it."
The commanding officer of the ladder truck was Lieut. Gerard Martinez, according to a fire official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak.
"Right now I can't say anything about it," Martinez said when reached by telephone at the fire house.
Passenger Aaron Timberlake, 22, of Clinton Township said he had a window seat on his way to East Lansing.
"I feel jolts riding on the train all the time," Timberlake said. "I saw a white ladder hit the side of the train and it took out a light pole. It was crazy."
Wolverine Train 353 left Pontiac today at 10:40 a.m. and was due in Chicago's Union Station at 4:16 p.m. It was to make a stop in Ann Arbor.