A 60-year-old West Covina man killed in a collision with a fire truck in Mira Loma has been identified as Agustin Nava Miramontes, according to a news report in The Press Enterprise. Miramontes was killed the morning of February 4, 2009 after his Dodge Ram broadsided a Riverside County fire engine at the intersection of Etiwanda Avenue and Van Buren Boulevard. The impact of the collision flattened the driver’s side of the pickup truck. Miramontes died at the scene. All three firefighters from Mira Loma Station 17 suffered minor injuries and were taken to a local hospital.
The fire engine was apparently responding to an injury auto accident about a block away from where this collision occurred. The southbound engine reached the intersection and a red light. According to eyewitnesses, all lights were red at that intersection except for a green light for eastbound traffic. Miramontes’ Dodge pickup had the green light and continued forward through the intersection crashing with the front passenger side of the engine. The three-man crew was wearing seat belts inside the cab. None of the firefighters’ identities was released.
Although California law requires motorists to stop and yield to emergency vehicles at intersections, Riverside County fire officials say their department’s policy is for fire engines to always make a full stop at an intersection while responding with lights and sirens. Their policy also required the responding fire engine to wait to proceed once traffic is clear. Whether this particular fire engine stopped at the intersection is still under investigation. At some intersections, firefighters do have the ability to flash a light at a stop light receiver and turn all other lights in the intersection to red. However, even in such a case, fire engines would be required to make a complete stop, Riverside County fire officials explained. A CHP Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team is apparently looking into this accident.
The most important detail from this investigation that I’d like to know is whether the fire engine did make the stop that they were required to at that intersection, based on their own department policy. If they did not follow proper protocol, then the governmental agency that runs the fire department could be held liable for the accident and Miramontes’ fatal injuries.
Miramontes’ family would be well-advised to retain the services of an experienced Riverside County personal injury lawyer who will help follow this investigation closely and make sure the family’s legal rights and interests are protected.