A James City County firefighter is charged with reckless driving after police say he failed to obey a red light while driving a fire engine, causing a crash with a septic truck and injuring four people, including himself.
Christopher D’Annibale, 32, was driving the fire engine to a structure fire in the 9500 block of Richmond Road Sunday when the engine was hit by a septic truck at Anderson’s Corner, according to James City County Police spokeswoman Stephanie Williams.
He was charged Sunday, the day of the accident, Williams said.
The fire truck was entering the intersection of Rochambeau Drive and Richmond Road to continue west on Richmond Road, toward the fire, when the septic truck hit it, according to police.
The septic truck was traveling through the intersection, and had a green light, Williams said. The fire truck had a red light.
D’Annibale and another firefighter sustained minor injuries, and the two people in the septic truck were seriously injured, police said.
The intersection was closed for about five hours while crews cleaned up 4,000 gallons of septic waste, police said.
Although the fire truck had its lights and sirens activated, the truck is still required to “yield the right of way at traffic signals,” Williams said.
Fire department spokesman Batallion Chief Al Catlett said the “entire incident” is under internal administrative review.
D’Annibale, who is a paid firefighter, is on paid administrative leave until officials conclude the administrative review, per county policy, Catlett said.
“We do an extensive administrative review, top to bottom,” he said. “That’s what we do with all incidents.”
“Obviously it’s a tragedy for all concerned, and we’re going to take a close look at everything we do and make sure everything is done properly.”
Williams confirmed the Anderson’s Corner intersection has an Opticom – a device that automatically changes the traffic lights in favor of the emergency vehicle entering the intersection.
Despite the Opticom, Williams confirmed the septic truck had a green light and the fire truck did not at the time of the crash.
Catlett said he could not comment on the Opticom’s function during the Sunday crash, but said in general, the system is a “tool” used by firefighters, but not “something we ultimately depend on.”