Separate crashes wreck 2 fire trucks in Pa.

By Bill Wichert
The Eastern Express Times

INDEPENDENCE TWP, Pa. — About six hours apart Monday, two firetrucks were wrecked in separate crashes in Independence Township and Belvidere.

In the Belvidere crash, a van sped past a stop sign about 3 p.m. at Greenwich and Fourth streets in town and slammed into a pumper carrying three firefighters. No one was injured.

About 9:20 p.m., two Independence Township firefighters suffered minor injuries when their firetruck crashed onto its side on Alphano Road.

Tyler Wargo, who was driving the truck in the Independence crash, was flown to University Hospital in Newark, Independence Township police Chief Dennis Riley said. Passenger Matthew Mecurio was taken to Hackettstown Regional Medical Center. Both were treated and released.

The firetruck appears to be &totaled,& Riley said.

"It's good news everyone walked away from something that could have been potentially bad," Riley said.

The two firefighters were returning to the firehouse from a drill when the tanker slid across the road and flipped over, police said. The icy conditions were the only factors contributing to the crash, Riley said.

"They weren't driving carelessly," the chief said.

Independence Township fire officials did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

The Belvidere crash occurred as the Good Will Volunteer Fire Co. firefighters were returning from a call about smoke at a nearby Laundromat, officials said. The firetruck was heading north on Greenwich Street when a 1998 Ford van ran the stop sign at Fourth Street and hit the truck, Belvidere police Chief Kent Sweigert said.

The van driver, Mark Tominac, 72, of Ellam Drive in Randolph, N.J., was charged with careless driving, Sweigert said.

Tominac did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

No one was hurt, but the crash left the firetruck's cab twisted and its fire pump leaking, Good Will Fire Chief Jim Christine said.

"It's definitely not looking good," Christine said. "It might be totaled."

The truck is the fire department's main pumper, Christine said. While the department's other two firetrucks can hold five men each in a partially open cab, the truck involved in the crash can hold 10 men in a fully enclosed cab, making it the safest vehicle, Christine said.

Christine said the fire department is waiting for the insurance company to assess the damage. A new truck could cost about $500,000, he said. The crash comes as the fire department awaits the delivery of a new $987,000 ladder truck in a few months.

"This could be a heavy burden on the town," Christine said.

Reached in Norfolk, Va., where he and his family were preparing for the retrial for his son's murder, Belvidere Mayor Charles Liegel said he was unaware of the firetruck crash. He suspected town officials had spared him Tuesday because of the nature of his trip.

Liegel expressed relief that no one was injured in the crash and said he would &deal with the collateral damage when I get back to Belvidere.&

Reporter Sarah M. Wojcik contributed to this report.

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