ATLANTA — An Atlanta firefighter was severely injured when he was struck by a vehicle along Interstate 85 northbound near Cleveland Avenue Sunday morning.
The firefighter was part of a crew from Fire Station #2 responding to a rollover wreck on the interstate and was stepping off of a fire engine when he was struck by another vehicle, according to Atlanta Fire Chief Randall Slaughter.
The incident happened at about 7:30 a.m.
Slaughter, speaking to reporters outside of Grady Memorial Hospital on Sunday morning, said the firefighter, a 47-year-old, seven-year veteran sergeant with the department, was in very, very serious condition but stable and in surgery with serious injuries to his lower extremities.
"This is a difficult day for us as firefighters and for me as chief," Slaughter said.
He said the situation was one that could have very easily could have resulted in a fatality.
The fire crew was responding to the wreck at the time of the incident. Slaughter said ordinarily, for interstate wrecks, a fire engine is dispatched and positioned in such a manner as to block and protect other crew members working on the wreck.
He said the engine was moving into position and the sergeant was "stepping off of the apparatus," when he was struck by the other vehicle.
Slaughter said an investigation as to the cause of the incident was underway and being led by the Atlanta Police Department, and as such, he would not speculate on the cause of the wreck.
Atlanta Police later said that as the firefighter was getting out of the driver's side of the fire truck, a 2009 Pontiac G5 hydroplaned into the fire engine, striking the firefighter.
He said firefighters had just completed a department-wide exercise on safety while working along highways and interstates.
The chief also cautioned motorists to slow down, especially in and around the area where emergency vehicles are operating.
The driver of the other vehicle involved was also injured and being treated, Slaughter said.
Police officials said charges are anticipated as a result of the incident. Details regarding the charges and the identity of the driver have not been released as of this point.
Slaughter said he was not ready to identify the sergeant, as his entire family had not been notified.
The Georgia Department of Transportation was able to get the roadway back open for traffic by 10:30 a.m.
For the latest traffic times and maps, please visit our traffic page at 11Alive.com/traffic.