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Fire Truck Crashes into Virginia Market

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- A fire truck heading to an emergency medical call with sirens blaring Wednesday morning crashed into a market on Wickham Avenue after swerving to avoid a sport utility vehicle in its path.

"The (fire) engine was on an emergency response... and all warning devices were operable," said Newport News Deputy Fire Chief Scott Liebold.

"The SUV approached the same intersection. Both drivers tried to avoid one another."

The fire engine, traveling north on Wickham Avenue, and the Ford SUV, traveling east on 36th Street, each veered in different directions, hitting each other with only "a glancing blow," Liebold said.

The fire truck then ran over a light pole and crashed into Leon's Minute Market, at the corner of 36th Street and Wickham Avenue.

None of the three firefighters on the truck was hurt. Nor was the driver of the SUV.

But Leon's Market had a big hole in its front, later covered up with plywood.

Though police originally said charges were pending against the SUV driver, an investigation is still ongoing and there's been no final determination on whether charges will be filed, said Officer Harold Eley, a Newport News Police spokesman.

Liebold said he had no immediate information on the condition of the person the truck was going to help.

Moments after the crash, the fire department dispatched a separate fire truck from a different station to the private residence at 37th Street and Orcutt Avenue that was the site of the original medical call.

The second truck, sent from the Washington Avenue station downtown, had to travel a greater distance than the first fire engine, dispatched from a station at Wickham Avenue and 23rd Street.

The dispatcher's call to the first station came in at 8:45 a.m., Liebold said. The call to the second station came in at 8:49 a.m., with the truck arriving at the residence at 8:56 a.m.

But Liebold said an ambulance sent as part of the original dispatch made it to the scene without incident, and began treating the patient as soon as it arrived.

Who will pay for the damage to the light pole and the damage to Leon's Market will be determined after the accident investigation is complete.

"If there's a (charge), it would go through the courts," Liebold said. "If there's not a citation, the insurance companies for both vehicles would work it out."

The market was the site of a fatal shooting in August. Leonard Carter, a youth mentor, was killed Aug. 13. His was the city's 22nd homicide of the year.

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