Firefighter killed in Englewood crash
March 24, 2007 (WLS) -- A Chicago firefighter is being remembered Saturday as a hero and a loving father. He died Friday when the fire truck he was riding in collided with a school bus.
Firefighter William Grant, 44, was a 20-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department. Three other firefighters were injured. Their identities have not been released. They are all expected to recover, according to Fire Commissioner Raymond Orozco.
"This is a sad day for Chicago Fire Department. We've lost one of our own this morning," said the Chicago Fire Dept.'s Raymond Orozco during a press conference Friday.
The fire truck was en route to a call when the crash occurred around 8 a.m. Witnesses said the truck had its lights and siren on as it passed the intersection of 59th Street and Wells. But, the bus, which was carrying no children, was not able to stop.
"The school bus was going southbound on Wells. The bus didn't stop. The fire truck tried to swerve around from hitting the bus. The school bus hit the back end of the fire truck which made it spin around. Then it went up the pole and came back down on its side," said witness Crystal Ross.
The impact knocked over the truck and ripped off part of its front engine.
"When I was on the corner, I saw a young man that was pinned up under there," said witness Jenal Patterson.
The injured firefighters were taken to local hospitals. Grant was pronounced dead at Little Company of Mary Hospital. Two of the firefighters remain hospitalized, but one of the firefighters and the bus driver were treated and released.
She had just dropped off children at Sheridan Elementary School, which is about four miles north of the crash site. No children were on the bus at the time.
"Imagine if the school because was filled with children. As a result, there could be substantial life loss," said John Chwarzynski, president, Local 2
She has been issued a preliminary traffic violation -- failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.
"I think the bus driver just didn't see the truck, maybe, and there was a truck on the side of her. A big tractor trailer truck on the left side of her," said Linda Wilson, witness.
The investigation of the accident was continuing, said fire department spokeswoman Eve Rodriguez.
The bus was operated by a Skokie-based contractor, Alltown Bus Services, and company spokesman Tom Vorndran said it is conducting its own investigation.
"It's just a tragic loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to those involved," he said. "We're very happy no children were involved."
Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said a fund has been set up for Grant's family at Prospect Federal Savings Bank. Donations can be made at any of the bank's locations in Worth, Oak Lawn or the Far South Side.
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