Two Burnet Area Volunteer Fire Department firefighters are recovering from injuries after being involved in a crash when a tire blew out on their emergency vehicle on the way to a medical call. Courtesy photo
STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
BURNET — A day after he was involved in a rollover, 31-year-old Burnet volunteer firefighter J.D. Berry realized just how fortunate he and his fire captain were based on photos of their crumpled rescue truck.
“You see the pictures, the skid mark, the tree. … It was just a freak accident, or we picked up something on the road,” Berry said. “It really doesn’t become clear how dangerous it was until you start looking back on it after the fact.”
Berry and Capt. Brandon Anderson, 36, both of the Burnet Area Volunteer Fire Department, crashed at about 1:30 p.m. May 3 on their way to a medical call while traveling along FM 2340 in northern Burnet County.
A driver of an oncoming vehicle witnessed the tire blowout that caused the rescue vehicle to swerve and roll over, according to a report.
As Berry was pinned inside, a Burnet County Sheriff’s Office deputy, who was also on the way to the same call, kept him calm.
“Your mind stays in that firefighter mode,” Berry said. “I wiggled my toes and arms. Everything was working. I felt the blood going down the back of my neck. I felt like, as long as I was breathing, everything was going to be OK.”
The firefighters were transported by ambulance to area emergency rooms with “a few bruises and minor lacerations.”
“I was just hoping and praying that both the members were OK,” Burnet Area VFD Chief Randy Meeks said. “They’re both standup guys. They’re top-notch.”
Anderson is credited with minimizing the potential severity of the crash.
“Luckily, (Anderson) was good enough to keep from the center of the tree but (grazed) the edge of it, causing (the truck) to roll,” Meeks said.
Berry added, “Brandon did a great job. If it wasn’t for him being able to maintain control of the truck, it would have turned out much worse for the both of us.”
The Hill Country 100 Club has offered assistance to the volunteer firefighters, who also reported an outpouring of community support.
“We do appreciate all the people that support us, and we’re right here to help you, and we love our neighbors,” Meeks said.
Meeks said he would like to see the firefighters completely recover before coming back to work.
“They’re ready to come back,” he said. “They need to heal up first. They need a few days off.”
Berry said he will not hesitate to get back on a rescue truck.
“Part of me wants to get back as soon as possible, so I don’t think about (the crash) too much,” he said. “If I didn’t have the stitches in the back of my neck, I would be back (already).”
At the hospital, Berry anticipated seeing his wife, Marlee, and 2-year-old son, Ryker, for the first time since the rollover.
“I didn’t want my wife to be scared,” he said. “I realized how lucky I was to hear their voices.”