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KCFD 'cooperating fully' with police investigation into deadly crash, building collapse

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Posted at 12:21 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-16 20:31:15-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department is "cooperating fully" with police on the investigation into a crash involving one of its fire trucks which left three people dead and a building partially collapsed.

A crew from Station 19, located at 43rd and Pennsylvania, was responding to a fire call when the crash happened around 10:25 p.m. Wednesday night.

The crew's truck collided with an SUV on Broadway Boulevard near Westport Road, and the force of the crash sent both vehicles into a nearby brick building.

A man and a woman in the SUV died in the crash. A third person, a woman who investigators say was a pedestrian, was found dead in the rubble Thursday morning.

The KSHB 41 I-Team got a copy of the 2018 Midtown Complete Streets report. It looked at the intersection of Broadway Boulevard and Westport Road.

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The report called the area "uninviting" with a "dangerous reputation." It also said the intersection is a "crash hot spot for bicycle, pedestrian and vehicle crashes."

Some of the improvements for the area looked at adding on-street parking spots, providing high quality and safe pedestrian crossings and a large pedestrian plaza.

The KSHB 41 I-Team has been trying to find out from the city if they have implemented any of the improvements listed in the report.

The city issued this statement Thursday:

"We are saddened by the tragic loss of life in this incident— our hearts, prayers, and thoughts are with the victims' families, friends, and loved ones. Our new commitment to Vision Zero is a pledge to not tolerate any vehicular or pedestrian related deaths on our streets. We take this work seriously and will continue to prioritize making our streets safer for all road users and in all neighborhoods."

After last night's deadly crash, the KSHB 41 I-Team requested crash numbers from the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department. Since January of 2018, KCPD said 47 wrecks have happened at that intersection.

Wednesday night's crash was the only deadly crash during that time.

KCPD said the intersection is not on their top 10 problem areas. Those 10 intersections average anywhere from 5 to 12 crashes per month, and with 47 wrecks, this intersection averages about one crash per month.

The KSHB 41 I-Team also looked into the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2019 numbers said 17 people were killed in crashes involving firetrucks in emergency use. Two were in the firetrucks; 15 were in other vehicles.

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Later Thursday, KCFD released a statement and held a press conference regarding the crash.

“Our thoughts are with those families, with our responders that were involved in the incident as well,” KCFD Fire Chief Donna Lake said.

She made it clear the fire department would be working with the police as they investigated.

“I also want to say that, and let everybody know that we have full confidence in KCPD, who are handling the investigation, and we are preserving all information and will cooperate fully with that investigation,” Lake said.

The department's statement said they do not take their duty to the public lightly and are saddened by the incident.

"As first responders, we are entrusted to respond to incidents and help people, and we are heartbroken by last night's tragic collision," the statement posted to Twitter read.

Lake said Thursday the firefighters involved in the crash were sent home for the evening and there is assistance available to them to handle the aftermath of the crash.

The truck involved will be out of service and crews at Station 19 will be equipped with a reserve apparatus in the meantime.

As far as traffic signal policy, Lake said regardless of signal color, "[the crew's] job is to ensure they've accounted for all lanes of traffic."

Lake would not comment further on department policies, pending the ongoing investigation.