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  • Teen Dies After Collision With Engine

    I hadn't seen this posted yet, so I thought I'd share as a reminder of how dangerous our responses can be.

    Teen involved in firetruck crash dies after days in coma
    By MEGHAN V. MALLOY
    REGISTER STAFF WRITER


    November 27, 2006



    Family and friends will gather at services today and Tuesday to remember a popular 16-year-old who died Sunday after spending more than five days in critical condition at Mercy Medical Center.

    Erika Schwager, of Bondurant, a Des Moines Christian School student, died at 12:23 a.m. from injuries suffered when her car was struck by a West Des Moines firetruck responding to an alarm at Valley West Mall.

    A visitation for Schwager will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. today at Valley Church, 4343 Fuller Road, West Des Moines. Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, a pastor from the Schwager family's church said on Sunday.

    On Friday night, according to the family, doctors decided to remove Schwager from a chemically induced coma. The next day, Schwager's family said "her physical body can no longer fight."

    "Erika is going home," they wrote in a Web site entry dated 7:28 p.m. Saturday.

    "We imagine her dancing, joking and laughing; joyful in her new home," her family wrote at caringbridge.org, an Internet site used by families and friends during a health crisis.

    Many of the Caringbridge Web site entries written by the family were messages of hope, but also of acceptance and peace.

    Family members and friends were asked to "quietly and humbly rejoice with us for Erika's new freedom and entrance into Heaven."

    "Erika and her family are completely dedicated followers of Jesus Christ," said Jordon Korell, a pastor at Valley Church, where the Schwagers attend services.

    "The family is very thankful to the community for the support and prayers they have received," Korell said.

    "They ask for the community to continue praying for them, and to pray for the firefighters involved."

    Like the family, Schwager's friends also looked to find peace despite the accident.

    A Facebook.com group, called "To the Girl with the Bubbliest Personality Ever!,'' was made for friends to post pictures and memories they shared with Schwager.

    "But this isn't a group to mourn her death, but to rejoice in her life," the group's description reads.

    "She'll never be forgotten."

    Bubbly summed up the popular teenager best, said former classmate Chloe Fontanini.

    "I didn't know her all that well, but she had a nice personality," Fontanini said. "She was very well-liked at school."

    Schwager was a Lions cheerleader, participated in the drama club and managed the school's volleyball team.

    John Steddom, principal of the secondary school in the Des Moines Christian School system, said an assembly would be held the first thing this morning.

    Grief counselors will also be on hand for students.

    "She was an outstanding young lady," Steddom said. "She worked hard in class and jumped into many activities."

    Schwager was headed home last Monday night when she crashed into a West Des Moines firetruck at Valley West Drive and Westown Parkway.

    Witnesses said Schwager slowed down for two police cars but then sped up to beat the firetruck.

    The firetruck struck the teen's car, then crossed the median and hit another vehicle, which struck a third. No one else was injured.

    Urbandale police have been asked to investigate the accident to avoid conflicts of interest, said West Des Moines Lt. Jeff Miller. The investigation should be finished this week.

    The firetruck was headed to the mall, where an alarm had sounded at the Younkers department store.

    It turned out to be a false alarm.

    Reporter Kate McGinty contributed to this story.
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  • #2
    Witnesses said Schwager slowed down for two police cars but then sped up to beat the firetruck.
    There's your problem right there.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Pyropup55
      There's your problem right there.
      What he said. It's terrible that this girl died. It will be adding to the tragedy if the brothers take a hit because of it.

      I think the new penalty for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle should be to tatoo "Fire Engines have lights and sirens for a REASON!" on the offenders foreheads.

      Comment


      • #4
        pray for peace of mind

        I am terribly saddened for this young girls family and I am upset at the comments above. She was only 16. How can you criticize a young girl after she has died. The worst thing is that it was a false alarm. It is a horrible thing when a sister or brother dies on the way to a false alarm..this is just as tragic for this family. Have some respect for peoples feelings and the dead that have passed on as a result of a mistake! She and her family are already suffering, no need to add salt to a wound and point out what you think/speculate her mistake was. What a shame.

        To the brothers who were driving,

        I am so sorry to hear about this tragedy. I hope you are at peace soon.

        Comment


        • #5
          Well, the good thing is, from what I read in the article, the family (at the very least) is not blaming the firefighters and in fact called for prayers for the firefighters as well as their families.
          Tom Warshaw
          Station 13 (Bethel)
          Sumter Fire Department

          "Scientists believe that the world is composed mainly of hydrogen because in their opinion, it is the most abundant element. I however, feel the earth is composed mainly of stupidity, because it is more abundant than hydrogen." - Frank Zappa

          September 11, 2001. We Must Never Forget.

          In memory of Thomas Sabella, L-13, FDNY


          All opinions stated are my own and do not reflect the opinions of my department or any organization I may belong to.

          Comment


          • #6
            And while I understand what Pyropup is getting at, I support Red's sentiments. Sure I get angry when I see people literally race (it happened again this weekend even) to cross an interesection even AFTER they have stopped, just to "beat the firetruck". But even when a person looses a life for being foolish in that manner its still a sad event for all concerned. Sad for the family because they lost a loved one, and sad for the fire unit involved, because the driver will always wonder "What could I have done differently?" Even if the driver of the apparatus had done all the correct and all the right things, and there was nothing more that could be done.
            If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

            "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

            "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

            Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

            impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

            IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

            Comment


            • #7
              She was only 16. How can you criticize a young girl after she has died.
              Easy, she was 16, and at that age the United States has determined you are mature enough to drive responsibly. She made the decision NOT to do that.
              When you grow up, you will find that decisions have consequences. Some good, some bad. Big picture, I am thankful that she didn't kill any inocent bystanders or any firefighters on the rig doing their job.
              My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
              "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
              George Mason
              Co-author of the Second Amendment
              during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788
              Elevator Rescue Information

              Comment


              • #8
                I wonder something? What would you say if that was your 16 year old daughter who died in this incident? Even after you coached her all her young life to get out of the way of responding emergency vehicles....... And the witness reports said it looked as if she sped up rather than yield?
                If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

                "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

                "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

                Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

                impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

                IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Exactly 27. One can only wish civilians would be more cautious and strict rules would be implemented toward civilians concerning EMS responding units.

                  I feel bad for the brothers who are suffering. I hurt for the family who lost a loved one. I am thankful no one else was lost.

                  As I was driving home from vacation on I 20 in GA. I passed under a big lighted sign on the expressway. It said something like... It is GA State Law that all vehicles must move over one lane for EMS units. I thought to myself...Way to go GA!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Someone said she sped up to beat the firetruck. That is an assumption by some random witness. What is more likely is that she just didn't see the firetruck after the other emergency vehicles went by. It happens all the time, hence why it is a good idea to space out the trucks rather than going like a parade. I doubt she was irresponsible and foolish, probably just didn't see it.
                    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MalahatTwo7
                      I wonder something? What would you say if that was your 16 year old daughter who died in this incident? Even after you coached her all her young life to get out of the way of responding emergency vehicles....... And the witness reports said it looked as if she sped up rather than yield?

                      Although I can somewhat agree with the statement SPFDRum as I mentioned earlier that I am thankful no other life was lost, I agree with 27 statements. You took the words right out of my mouth 27! My point exactly.

                      Also the statement "when you grow up" is the point. She didn't have that chance. Please don't be so politically correct when we are talking about a 16 yr old girl...c'mon.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by nmfire
                        It happens all the time, hence why it is a good idea to space out the trucks rather than going like a parade.
                        How do you "space them out"? If an engine and a truck from the same house are responding to a fire, are you saying one unit needs to delay its response so motorists don't have to use caution and assume a second rig is coming?
                        I am a complacent liability to the fire service

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Space them out, by three or more TRUCK lengths is how. NO need for one to be "up the Bumper" of the other.

                          At least thats what my EVOC instructor tried to impart to us during the theory class. I argued against that, for the reason of if they move for one, but you are too far away, they will move in, on the ASSumption that there is only one. But then I learned convoy driving from the army, and heck, what do they know?
                          If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

                          "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

                          "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

                          Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

                          impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

                          IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by nmfire
                            Someone said she sped up to beat the firetruck. That is an assumption by some random witness. ................. I doubt she was irresponsible and foolish, probably just didn't see it.
                            Why are you so quick to discount multiple eyewitness accounts (the original story stated "witnesses") when you know this happens all the time? No one likes to see a tragedy like this, but it doesn't help to let your emotion cloud your judgement. People race us, refuse to yield, and are hit by us everyday. It's a sad fact of life.
                            I am a complacent liability to the fire service

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My god people. The only people who know what happened would be the people in her car. Was she the only one in her car? She is gone now. Will we ever truly know? We can be thankful we didn't lose any brothers or sisters. The family and the FD are in a state loss right now. The FD lost someone in their community. They are trying to pull together and we should be supportive.

                              Comment

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