LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A Lubbock firefighter and police officer are dead and one firefighter remains in serious condition after they were struck by a vehicle while working a wreck on Saturday morning.
Chief Floyd Mitchell called it a tragic day for firefighters and the men and women of law enforcement. Lubbock has lost some heroes, he said in a news conference Saturday morning.
The officer and firefighter who died have been identified as 27-year-old Nicholas Reyna with LPD and the firefighter was 39-year-old Lt. and Paramedic Eric Hill. The firefighter who is in critical condition has been identified as 30-year-old Matt Dawson.
LPD and LFR responded to a single-vehicle rollover crash on northbound I-27 and Drew Street. That call came in at 8:19 a.m. The vehicle was traveling southbound and crossed over into the northbound lanes and came to rest.
At 8:36 a.m., LFR and LPD arrived on scene and began to work the first crash. While working the crash, a second vehicle traveling southbound on I-27 crossed over into the median. This vehicle was pulling a trailer. It came to rest about 25 to 50 yards south of the first crash.
While first responders were working both crashes, a third vehicle traveling southbound on I-27 crossed into the median and struck two firefighters and the police officer. This vehicle continued to travel into the northbound lanes and stopped after going down an embankment.
At 8:50 a.m., emergency officers and firefighters on scene requested additional emergency personnel and reported the three first responders were injured.
There were three vehicles involved at the scene. The last vehicle struck the first responders. One other driver had serious injuries, others had minor to moderate injuries.
Reyna, was pronounced dead at the scene. The two firefighters were taken to University Medical Center. One of the firefighters, Hill, died at the hospital.
Fire Chief Shaun Fogerson says Hill was a 10-year veteran of the fire department. Dawson is a five-year veteran of the department. Family says Dawson is in stable condition after surgery Saturday night. Caregivers are monitoring his brain activity and he does have some broken bones.
Reyna had only worked for the department for a year.
Lubbock Fire Chief Shaun Fogerson said both firefighters were treated by emergency personnel on scene and were taken to the hospital immediately.
“This is a tragic day for our family. This is a tragic day for both police and fire and the men and women of both of our departments,” Police Chief Mitchell said.
“When road conditions get this bad, we need to make sure that people understand that they need to slow down. They need to understand the road conditions are dangerous and we have people out there trying to protect them. Speed and road conditions are always a factor,” Chief Mitchell said.
“In the last severe weather event, icy weather event we had, two police vehicles and one fire vehicle were struck. At that time we had damaged equipment and now we have lost personnel. True heroes for the city of Lubbock. It’s a huge loss for the public safety community here and it was very unnecessary. If people would respect road conditions, things like this wouldn’t have to happen,” Chief Fogerson said.
Accident investigators are mapping out the scene. Both north and southbound lanes of I-27 are shut down at mile marker 12. They will remain shut down until the investigation is complete. No word on charges being filed in this crash.
Chris Kemp, president of the Lubbock Professional Fire Fighters Association, said updated information on Dawson’s condition will be updated throughout the day. The association will also update the public on Hill’s memorial service.
“Please keep in your thoughts and prayers the families, friends and crews of Lt. Hill, a 39-year-old, 10-year veteran of Lubbock Fire Rescue, and FF Dawson, a 30-year-old, five-year department veteran,” Kemp said in an official statement.
Both departments will have counselors available for the other first responders on the scene and for those who knew the officer and firefighter.
Flags at both department headquarters have been placed at half-staff.
“The people who put on this badge, the people who put on that badge, they give their life to their communities. We are true servants. To my family here in Lubbock, my police department and fire department family, hearts go out to them,” Chief Mitchell said.