A D.C. firefighter critically injured when he was crushed between two fire trucks while responding to a call thinks someone should be held accountable.
Dane Smothers Jr. said he was getting a hose at row house fire on Capitol Hill in August when He was injured. He had a lung removed. He had surgery on his spinal chord. The side of his skull was crushed, and his ribs were broken. He is blind in one eye and unable to use his left hand. Doctors tell him he’ll never be the same.
Smothers spent three months in the hospital and underwent nine surgeries.
“I’m waking up in pain every day,” he said. “I’m living with this, and I don’t feel like I did anything wrong. I mean, I wasn’t driving the truck. I didn’t run through the street. I don’t feel like I did anything wrong.”
An internal department report cited problems with the way fire trucks were positioned, creating blind spots for the drivers. The report also found the lack of experience of the rookie firefighter was a contributing factor to the accident.
Smothers said he wasn’t standing in the street but was standing up on the bumper trying to get the hose from its compartment when a hook and ladder pinned him.
According to a spokesperson for D.C. Fire, the firefighters driving the truck as well as the tillerman driving the rear are on active duty, still driving fire trucks.
“But I’m out of a career, pretty much,” Smothers said.
Smothers and his attorney hope to meet with Fire Chief Gregory Dean to talk about the report.
Dean said he’s considering the changes in training and policies recommended by the review panel.
Smothers also said his training at the fire academy felt “rushed.”
He remains on disability leave but hopes to return to work at the fire department one day in some capacity.