Delaware Firefighter Dies After Weekend Accident

First Delaware LODD Since 2000

DELAWARE CITY, DE (December 22, 2008) -- A Delaware City (DE) Volunteer Firefighter died today of injuries she sustained after being run down by a motorist on US Route 13 at the New Castle County Airport. Firefighter Michelle Smith, 29. was assisting in the treatment of the victim of a motorcycle accident when a driver sped through the emergency scene, running over Smith and the patient.

Smith and her EMT partner were staffing the Delaware City BLS Unit, which had been covering Wilmington Manor Fire Station #28, when they were dispatched to the report of a motorcycle accident with injuries, about 1 mile from the station. In Delaware, accidents involving motorcycles receive a multi-tiered response, which includes the nearest BLS unit, a county Paramedic unit, a Rescue/Pumper, Fire Police and the Delaware State Police helicopter.

The Delaware City ambulance responded immediately, arriving less than a minute after being dispatched. On arrival, Smith noticed the motorcyclist lying in the median of the four southbound lanes of busy US Route 13, and placed the ambulance in a blocking position. Smith and the EMT began to access the victim's injuries as traffic in adjacent lanes sped by at 55 miles per hour.

A passing New Castle County Police Officer stopped to render assistance, pulling his patrol car near the grass median. According to a News Journal report, "as he opened his door, the officer noticed a 2004 BMW 760 speeding in his direction and quickly got back into his car to avoid being struck."

Witnesses say that the BMW sideswiped the police cruiser, swerved around the ambulance and ran down Smith and the accident victim, Edward Reiss, 30. of New Castle.

The driver of the BMW fled the scene, then abandoned the car further south on US Route 13. He is said to have jumped into another vehicle, which quickly left the area. Delaware State Police believe they have identified the runaway driver, but offered no further information.

According to initial information released by the Delaware City Fire Company, Ms. Smith was treated on scene by NCC Paramedics and EMT’s from Wilmington Manor and Goodwill Fire Companies. She was transported to Christiana Emergency Department, where she was initially listed in stable condition as her injuries were further being evaluated.

News of her death came at around Noon on Monday, sending a shockwave through Delaware's small, tighly knit emergency services community. Smith is the first Delaware firefighter to perish in the line of duty in nearly 9 years. In 2000, a Greenwood (DE) Assistant Fire Chief was died in a flashover during a training exercise gone bad.


Offer your condolences by visiting Delaware City Fire Company on the web.

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Resources:
-News Journal Papers
-Delaware City Fire Company
-Delaware State Police

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Comment by Michael Bates on December 23, 2008 at 5:38pm
my condolences to her family. I hope they find the driver and he gets the death penalty!!
This is the second accident I know of in the last week on , A firetruck and two police cruisers were destroyed when a tractor trailer plowed into all three, sending multiple firefighters and NJSP troopers to the hospital. None of these people were seriously injured to my knowledge. I personally know many of the people involved in this accident, and my company was dispatched as a result.
Both of these accidents should have been avoided, and obviously their bright yellow osha mandated vests were no help. at no time were any of the First Responders at fault. It is time that the public be held responsible for their actions. I don't know what will work , but we need to educate the public of their responsibilities when we are in the road. The powers that be should strictly enforce, and penalize people who do not proceed with caution/yield to emergency workers. I'm so pissed that we keep getting injured and killed because some idiot can't slow down and pay attention. I spend alot of time on Hiway's and everytime we're out there there are near misses.and we do everything in our power to stay safe
Comment by Dustin J. Millis on December 23, 2008 at 12:36am
My heart goes out to her family. God bless her for making the ultimate sacrifice!!!!! I know this particular situation seems almost unavoidable due to the lack of manpower on scene at the time, however; whenever possible, we need to be shutting down the road completly for MVA's, car fires, etc. I dont care how long or how much traffic is going to be blocked. This story is the exact reason why we need to completly block the scene

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