2 firefighters killed, 3 hurt as truck crashes on way to scene of deadly West Virginia highway wreck

Two volunteer firefighters were killed and three others were hurt after their fire truck crashed while responding to a deadly highway wreck in West Virginia on Saturday night.  

The five members of the Pratt Volunteer Fire Department were heading toward the wreck on the West Virginia Turnpike.

The fire truck careened off a road and into a ditch, striking a rock wall,   Pratt Deputy Fire Chief Rod Johnson said Sunday, the  Charleston Gazette-Mail   reported, correcting initial reports that the truck had flipped. It’s unclear what triggered the crash.

Two of the firefighters were confirmed dead while the three injured were taken to the Charleston Area Medical Center for treatment, according to officials.

“ This is a tragic event and believed to be the worst accident involving our volunteer fire service has ever suffered, ” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said in a written statement.

Assistant  fire chief Michael Edwards, 46, and Lt. Thomas Craigo, 40, were killed, Johnson said. Edwards had 25 years of service as a firefighter and Craigo spent about 15 years with the department.

Johnson said both men recently had gotten married, including Edwards about a week ago. Edwards and Craigo also have children, the Gazette-Mail  reports.  

Chief Timmy Walker and firefighter Billy Hypes are in critical and stable condition, respectively, the report said. Firefighter Kyle Jenkins was treated and released.

Local media reported three people were killed in the first crash the firefighters had been attempting to reach.  

State police spokesman Capt. Reggie Patterson said in a release that a car driven by Beatrice Patrick, 77, of Salyersville, Kentucky, was going the wrong way in the southbound lanes when it struck another car head-on. The second car then ran off the road and struck a disabled box truck.

Patterson said the driver of the second car, James W. Platte, 49, of Westphalia, Michigan, and his wife, Tonya Platte, 38, were killed. Box truck driver Jordan Napoleon, 40, of Greer, South Carolina, was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice was joined by U. S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., in tweeting condolences to the victims of the two accidents.

West Virginia State police were investigating both crashes.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved in these accidents this evening and their families, ” Carper said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.