DEMOREST – Two drivers were injured after a chain-reaction wreck involving a fire truck in Demorest Tuesday morning.
The fire truck, driven by 26-year-old Nerik Meister of Baldwin, was traveling south on Ga. 385 behind two other vehicles at the time of the collision, according to Sgt. Casey Coffee of Georgia State Patrol Post 7 in Toccoa.
The wreck occurred at 8:49 a.m. Tuesday.
A Ford Taurus driven by Johanna Flores, 47, of Clarkesville stopped in the southbound lane of Ga. 385 waiting for another vehicle to turn. A Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Emma Gonzalez, 34, of Alto, stopped behind the Taurus, according to Coffee.
The fire truck was unable to stop in time and struck the Tahoe in the rear, according to Coffee. The Tahoe then continued forward, striking the rear of the Ford Taurus.
Gonzalez was transported by ambulance to Habersham Medical Center for treatment.
Flores was transported by ambulance to Northeast Georgia Medical Center for treatment.
“It’s unfortunate that Engine 5 was involved in a motor vehicle collision, but I’m very thankful that no one was seriously injured,” said Demorest Mayor Rick Austin. “My understanding is that the vehicle in the front stopped abruptly, and because of the weight of that fire truck being 40,000 pounds it takes it longer to stop.”
Gonzalez was charged with driving while unlicensed.
Meister told troopers the brakes on the truck were working improperly, but Austin said that was not the case.
“That truck is driven daily, and the brakes are checked regularly as part of our maintenance program,” Austin said, adding the brakes were checked on scene by both GSP and Demorest officials and found to be in working order.
Because the truck has anti-lock brakes, Austin said when the driver “stands on the brakes” they may feel spongy and as if they are not working properly.
“That truck won’t stop on a dime,” Austin said of the required stopping distance for the 40,000-pound truck. “They weren’t speeding or anything. He just simply didn’t have room to stop.”