DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- The driver of a semi that slammed into a deputy’s cruiser and split a fire truck in half on I-85 early Sunday has been charged with reckless driving.
Deputy Brian Fields was working an accident on Interstate 85, early Sunday morning.
The semi hit the fire engine around 1:30 a.m. as the engine was helping block off the right lane of I-85 because of an earlier accident.
"Thought about it all night in my sleep, it's something that you just can't say, ok, it's going to be better the next day, you definitely think about it,” Fields said.
The massive fire truck blocked two lanes.
Deputy Fields walked towards his patrol car to grab some flares to put out.
"Just as I looked up, I saw the truck coming, full speed, 65-70 miles per hour,” he said.
Fields, just feet away, yelled for everyone to run as the tractor-trailer slams into the fire engine.
The impact was so severe that the cab of the fire truck sheared off and flew into Fields’ patrol car.
"It's the first time I've seen a cab knocked off a fire truck before,” retired firefighter Jack Sullivan said.
The impact caused the tractor-trailer to roll over and continue down the interstate more than 200 feet. Debris from the truck, the fire engine, and a deputy's cruiser that was also hit littered the interstate.
"It's amazing you know that everybody came out without no one being killed that night and that's a blessing," said Joseph Fields, the deputy's father and chaplain for the Sheriff's Office.
The angle of the fire engine helped deflect the tractor trailer away from first responders; which is exactly why it was parked that way.
It will be about a year before a new fire engine will be delivered to replace the one destroyed in the accident.
"The damage that was done to the truck, my initial reaction there was almost certainly fatalities involved,” Sullivan. "Fortunately the folks in Dinwiddie were doing everything they were supposed to be doing setting up on the scene.”
Sullivan said he is aware of at least two other secondary accidents across the country this weekend alone. Additionally, he said emergency crews are constantly training on how to stay safe on emergency scenes, but that is only a part of the safety equation.
“The next piece of the puzzle is to get the motoring public to pay attention to the signals that we're throwing at them at incident scenes. Slow down; move over where they can,” Sullivan said.
Lonnie Mixter, the driver of the semi, was charged with reckless driving.