Campbellsville Firefighters seriously injured in accident after ice water challenge
Campbellsville Police Chief Tim Hazlette explained the incident at a press conference in Campbellsville Thursday evening. He said the firefighters had raised the aerial ladder of a truck to dump water on the school's band members for a charity cold water challenge.
After the students had dispersed, Chief Hazlette said the firefighters were preparing to leave and began lowering the ladder into 'traveling position'. As the ladder was being lowered, he said the bucket came too close to a power line and the electricity apparently arced towards the firefighters.
"If you get within a distance of 3 or 4 feet, the energy that surrounds the high voltage wire, will actually arc over onto another object, and in this case being the personnel inside the bucket," Chief Hazlette explained.
Captain Tony Grider, 41, and Simon Quinn, 22, were in the bucket and were shocked by the electricity. Both were taken to Taylor Regional Hospital and later flown to the University of Louisville's Medical Center Burn Unit.
Captain Grider remained in critical condition Friday morning, while Quinn is said to be improving.
Steve Marrs, 37, and Alex Johnson, 28, took the controls of the bucket to lower Quinn and Grider to the ground, they also received residual shock. Johnson and Marrs were taken to Taylor Regional Hospital. Johnson was admitted for observation while Marrs was treated and released.
Campbellsville University student Jonathan Jones saw it happen.
"We were just walking, and we happened to look up, and we saw what looked like an explosion," Jones said. "We saw the one guy fall, and the guy beside him started to scream for help. We could see one of the guys in there, like twitching, and then everybody started screaming, and then they brought the bucket down and EMS was already there."
Eric Johnson, a spokesperson for Supporting Heroes, an organization that reaches out to families of police officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty, has confirmed that the firefighters were injured in an incident involving a fire truck and power lines.
According to the Campbellsville University's official Twitter account, the firefighters were assisting with some sort of cold water challenge, a popular social media trend used to raise money for charity.
Lines of fellow fireman from the Louisville Fire Department and elsewhere showed up at University Hospital in Louisville to show support. There were tears and hugs throughout the afternoon -- some in disbelief, other just trying to make sense of what happened.
The wife of the critically injured firefighter was escorted to University Hospital by Kentucky State Police. We're told other family and the fire chief of the Campbellsville/Taylor County Fire Department were also there with the victims.
A prayer vigil for the victims was held Thursday on Campbellsville University's campus.