Volunteer firemen escape injury in early morning Route EE slide-off Friday; pumper ends up on its side

Dave Marner
Managing Editor

All three Owensville firemen in the tanker truck which slid over onto its side early Friday morning escaped injury and the all-volunteer department now awaits an inspection by the city’s insurance carrier to determine the extent of the damages.

Owensville firemen were responding to a call around 6 a.m. for a motorist who had struck a Crawford Electric utility pole on an icy Price Road, shearing it off and causing three-phase lines to hang down. One unit had arrived at the scene of the damaged line pole from Highway 19 and the pumper crew, taking Route EE, had missed Price road and had turned around. 

While traveling north on EE with fireman Carl Smith driving, the 2003 American LeFrance rescue-pumper pumper with its standard 750-gallon load of water onboard, appeared to slip off the right edge of the road. The fire truck continued  along the edge for approximately 300 feet, before sliding off completely and turning over onto its right side, sliding to a muddy stop with its front window against a utility pole’s anchor wire. An initial report of possible black ice conditions was reviewed. It is now believed to an edge slide-off incident.

The truck has extensive damage to its front window and front deck. Side cab windows were also broken out and the deck at the pumping control station was also damaged. Firemen Nick Geisert, riding up front with Smith, and Rodney Bossaller, in the rear-facing passenger seat, also climbed out of the rig uninjured. All three were checked out at a hospital that morning. Smith and Geisert went by ambulance and Bossaller went by private vehicle, Arnold said.

Smith submitted to a mandatory urine test at the hospital which is required by the city’s insurance provider, according to Assistant Chief Jeff Arnold who was at the scene throughout the recovery of the unit by two wrecker crews. 

The Missouri State Highway Patrol responded to the scene to conduct an investigation. That report was not finalized as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Chief Scott Stranghoener. He spoke with Board of Aldermen members about the incident on Monday. “I can’t tell you whether or not it’s totalled,” said Stranghoener noting the manufacturer is no longer in business and parts may be difficult to obtain. “The cash value it $50,000, on the high side, only if they total it.”

He said surrounding departments have offered “auto mutual aid assistance” and the loan of an extra truck if needed.

Ward 1 Alderman Cathy Lahmeyer said she had “some questions about that… manpower on the truck” at the time of the wreck. Ward 2 Aldermen Rob Borgmann cut her off, saying, “I’d rather not discuss that anymore” before being cut off by Mayor John Kamler who said they didn’t have a closed session scheduled that night.

“There are accident and it does happen,” Borgmann added. “I went through this with Beaufort-Leslie when it (their truck) was really new. I know other departments have been through this. That’s why they call them accidents.” 

“I’m surprised they don’t happen more often,” said Kamler.