‘Everybody slow down:’ Fire official pleas to public after 288 crash

Wednesday morning’s crash is eerily similar to a crash that killed a fire lieutenant in Hanover
Updated: Oct. 24, 2018 at 5:43 PM EDT
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POWHATAN, VA (WWBT) - Police are investigating a crash that happened on Route 288 North in Powhatan Wednesday morning that is eerily similar to a crash that killed a Hanover fire lieutenant almost two weeks ago to the day.

Around 5:00a.m., emergency officials were called when a driver struck a deer on Route 288, north of Route 711. They were parked on the side of the road, with their flashing lights on. Firefighters were beginning to wrap up, when police say 61-year-old Adrian Phillingame came barreling down the road and instead of moving over, she struck a vehicle the Powhatan fire chief, Steven Singer, was sitting inside.

Phillingame’s car then flipped several times, landing on the other side of the road.

Pat Schoeffel, the assistant fire chief for the Powhatan Fire Department, said it was a scary moment for first responders.

“Chief Singer was just clearing up himself so literally a minute or two before that, he was outside the vehicle, he had just got in it so he could have been smashed between two vehicles,” Schoeffel said.

The chief suffered minor injuries, while Phillingame was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.

The outcome of this crash was very different than what occurred in Hanover almost two weeks ago to the day, when Lieutenant Brad Clark was killed and two other firefighters were badly injured when a tractor trailer slammed into the rear of the engine they were inside. The firefighters were parked on the side of the road for a two-vehicle accident they were responding to during Hurricane Michael.

After this latest incident in Powhatan, fire officials are pleading to the public.

Hanover Fire Chief Jethro Piland III said, “Limit the distractions while driving and obviously when you see first responders, firefighters, construction workers, police officers, we want people to move over, it is the law but more importantly it’s the right thing to do."

Jason Elmore with Chesterfield Fire and EMS said, “The most dangerous thing in the fire department that we do unbelievably is not going into a burning building, its being out on traffic accidents, on the side of the road...Please take that little extra time, slow down, move over so our folks can be safe working along side of the road.”

“If you see emergency lights, whether its emergency vehicles, fire trucks, police officers, slow down, move over and take your time,” Schoeffel said.

It’s a law to move over and slow down when you see emergency vehicles on the side of the road. If you don’t, and you’re caught, you could get a ticket.

In this case, Phillingham was charged with reckless driving.

Virginia State Police continue to investigate the incident.

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