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Responders Face Challenging Scene at Deadly Chillum Road Accident

Hyattsville LIfe & Times Photo/Chris Currie
Hyattsville LIfe & Times Photo/Chris Currie

Shortly before 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 8th, units from Hyattsville, Chillum and the surrounding area were dispatched to a vehicle accident with reported fire and entrapment on Chillum Road. The incident claimed the lives of five people including an unborn child and left 14 others injured, several critically.

Paramedic Engine 844, in the area when the initial call was dispatched, was the first unit to arrive at Chillum Road and 20th Avenue with multiple victims in a multi-vehicle accident with a truck on fire. The other primary vehicle in the collision was a church van occupied by 16 members of an area church who were on their way to evening services in Riverdale, including many children.

Prior to the fire department’s arrival, nearly a dozen local citizens worked to do what they could for the victims — including pulling several victims out of the church van as flames and smoke began to spread. Other civilians and police officers used fire extinguishers as a neighbor worked to quell the flames with a garden hose. Without a doubt, the actions of those citizens saved lives or prevented further injury to the victims.

On arrival, PE844 immediately requested additional resources including two EMS task forces and more fire/rescue units. Battalion Chief 4 (College Park Chief 12 – Corrigan), arrived shortly thereafter and assumed command.

Squad 1 arrived and immediately connected with PE844’s officer and began operations. The lineman from PE844 was working to extinguish the pickup truck, which had one fatality inside. As one member of Squad 1 went to work assisting in triaging the victims on the ground who had been pulled out by the citizens, the crew went to work with five patients trapped in the church van including one fatality.

One victim in the van was trapped in the driver’s seat, two in the second row and the last in the third row. The squad crew split up and went to work freeing the patient on the driver’s side and worked on the passenger side, quickly extricating one victim and removing the van doors to access others. The second row of the van and passenger seat were removed to free the other victims.

EMS resources poured in from across the area, bringing the response to five engine companies, three rescue squads, two truck companies, 9 BLS ambulances, 4 ALS units (plus several of the engines companies were ALS staffed), four helicopters (two utilized) and numerous mass casualty, command and support units. (See Response Rundown here)

Over 60 fire, rescue & EMS personnel from Prince George’s, Montgomery and Washington, D.C. operated on the scene and performed well under very trying circumstances. The incident was one of the most challenging and deadly on Hyattsville area roads in the last 50 years.

Despite the combined efforts of the responders and bystanders prior to our arrival, four victims died at the scene, including one child. The unborn baby of a pregnant woman also was pronounced dead at an area hospital. Fourteen other victims were transported to area trauma centers and hospitals. The injured included six children (four critically hurt) and eight adults (four critically hurt).

The thoughts and prayers of the Hyattsville VFD, responders and the community are with the victims and their families.

Incident Audio

Units on Scene

  • Engine Companies: Paramedic Engine Companies 844, 712 & 716, Engine 812B & Engine 855
  • Special Services: Squad 801, Squad 814, Squad 806, Truck 814, Truck 716
  • BLS Units: Ambulances 812, 834, 812B, 830, 702, 833, 801, 806 & DC 10
  • ALS Units:: Medics 812, 712, 844 & Paramedic Ambulance 838
  • Support Units: Medical Ambulance Bus 830, Special Unit 726, Mobile Command Unit 800, CSU, FM154
  • Aviation: MSP Troopers 2 (transported 2), 7 & 3 (not utilized), US Park Police Eagle 2 (transported 1)
  • Command Officers: Battalion Chiefs 884 (Chief 12 with Command), 881, 701, Duty Chief, Northern & Southern EMS Duty Officers, EMS 701, Safety Officer 800, Fire Chief, Executive Officer, PIO

Units starting with “7” are Mutual Aid from Montgomery County

Numerous units from throughout region, including Howard, Montgomery and Anne Arundel Counties, transferred to backfill stations on the scene, including Kentland Engine 833 and Burtonsville (Montgomery) Squad 715 to Company 1.

Pre-Arrival Photo via Steve Ramsey
Pre-Arrival Photo via Steve Ramsey

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