TENNESSEE CITY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A volunteer firefighter is recovering from surgery after being injured while working a scene on I-40 Monday night. Captain Ted Presgraves with the Tennessee City Volunteer Fire Department suffered a leg injury after officials say a U-Haul driver plowed into their tanker near mile marker 155.
“It doesn’t take much for somebody to be in a life or death situation that’s out there risking their lives,” explained firefighter Luke Williams with the Tennessee City Volunteer Fire Department.
That was the case around 9:30 a.m. Monday as Williams said around a dozen personnel from multiple agencies worked a tanker truck fire — many volunteers.
“We don’t want to die while we are out on the interstate trying to work an accident,” stated Williams.
Captain Presgraves was working the pump panel when Williams said the driver of a U-Haul van — later identified as 78-year-old Samuel Farmer — came full speed through the closed lane.
“He never swerved, he never slowed down, he never did anything,” Williams explained.
Despite the flashing lights and emergency responders, Williams said Farmer continued as usual in the closed lane.
“I’m sitting there watching, you know, shining a light in his eyes, flashing, hitting him with as many lights as we can to try and get his attention.”
Farmer continued on, past emergency vehicles.
“He hit our truck, direct hit 70 miles per hour and then bounced from there hitting another personnel vehicle and then coming back into one of our vehicles and then of course personnel,” Williams explained.
As Presgraves lie on the ground, his colleagues still had work to do, immediately performing medical care to their colleague and freeing the driver of the van.
“That’s what we do, that’s what we’ve been trained to do,” explaining that it’s a difficult job especially when it’s one of your own.
Captain Presgraves, who has been with the department for more than two decades and is a mentor to many, was flown to Vanderbilt with a leg injury.
“We are just very thankful that captain is still with us today and you know that, hopefully, he is going to be able to walk away at some point with some stories,” said Williams.
Loved ones ask for prayers as Presgraves recovers, while first responders like Williams hope to raise awareness on a reoccurring issue they continue to face on the job.
“Please, just pay attention, please get over. Please, please give us space because we would all like to go home to our families at night and I know our families would like us to come home.”
It is state law to move over for emergency vehicles.
The volunteer fire department said their tanker truck is likely totaled, which also sets them back.
Farmer is facing charges following the crash. He was charged with driving on a suspended license, violating Tennessee’s “Move Over” Law and not exercising due care.