Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Help Me Howard: Fire Truck Crash
A police car or a fire truck is driving along, it hits you and then you are told it's not their fault. Rescue vehicles are never at fault. That's what one South Florida woman was told after she says a fire truck ran into her, which is why she dialed Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Fire-rescue can truly be saviors. Saving homes from fires, people from dying. Everyone is happy to see them.
Gisele Wongwon: "Once we were at the stop sign the fire truck turned."
But, Gisele Wongon didn't have a great meeting with a fire crew.
Gisele Wongwon: "And after he turned that's when he hit the back of the car."
Gisele was at this stop sign in a parking lot when the fire truck pulled in.
Gisele Wongwon: "I was pretty much where that cars at stopped and right here, where they turned that's where they hit, so I was stopped just like how he was."
This is a picture of the crash. After the accident, gisele says the fire crew was as nice and polite as you could hope for.
Gisele Wongwon: "And the lieutenant, she came out and apologized and said it was their fault, they were wrong."
Then a police officer showed up, talked to the fire crew and told Gisele in her opinion Gisele caused the accident.
Gisele Wongwon: "And the police officer on scene also did say, emergency vehicles are never at fault. We argued on it asking why we were at fault and the first thing she said was, you don't know if they were going to an emergency."
Gisele says the fire truck didn't have its lights or siren on, and in fact, she says it was clear why the crew pulled into the Publix parking lot.
Gisele Wongwon: "We heard them saying they were going to Publix to get a chicken salad, without almonds."
Gisele says that picture from the accident also seems to prove her point, but the police officer wrote that Gisele drove into the fire truck, when Gisele says the fire truck drove into her car.
Gisele Wongwon: "The damage is there. They're saying I hit the truck, if I even turned in front of the truck or anything like that, the fire truck would have hit the front or the side of the car. It's the rear of the car, it's the back of the car."
Gisele says she tried to explain it all to the police officer on the scene. She says the officer then tried to make her happy.
Gisele Wongwon: "They said I was at fault, but they weren't going to give me a ticket, they were going to do me a favor and not give me a ticket."
Gisele may not have a ticket, but she has $2,000 damage to her car and she wants the county to pay it.
So, she put together this computer matrix to show that the officer made a mistake in her accident report.
Gisele Wongwon: "Once we were at three at the stop sign and stopped that's when the fire truck moved from A to B to C and at C that's where the impact was."
She took her information to the fire department and police department and both told her the same thing. The police officer said it was her fault, so it's her fault.
Gisele Wongwon: "When I went into the police department they said there is nothing I can do because when they right up the report, pretty much whatever they write up in that report it's golden."
Gisele says the police report is flat out wrong, but Howard the police officer believes rescue vehicles can never be at fault, so what can Gisele do.
Howard Finkelstein: "First of all the officer is wrong. If a fire truck is not rushing to an emergency they have to follow the same rules on the road as you and I do. Secondly, you can't change a police report, but you don't need to. "It's just the officer's opinion, and if you disagree get a supervisor to review the incident and write a second report, with hopefully, your conclusion. If that fails take them to court."
Gisele has complained to internal affairs at the police and fire department. We then contacted Miami-Dade Risk Management to see if they would pay the $2,000 to repair the car. Three days later they agreed. Gisele will get her money, but she is not finished. She is still asking the police to add an amendment to her police report to make it clear the accident was not her fault.
Gisele Wongwon: "And it's not right. It's the principle of the matter, you can't just go around doing this."
Gisele would not give up, good for her. And if you think you are right keep fighting. One more thing,
if a police or fire truck has its lights and sirens on rushing to a scene, runs through a red light and hits a car, in almost every case they are not responsible. Unless you can prove they were negligent. In other words, the law says they have to slow down for intersections and be cautious.
Troubles got you burning up. Ready to sound the alarm. Let us police things. We will take a crash course in the legalities to avoid any accidents.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com