There are some events that move from the bizarre to the improbable, and an incident on Park Avenue and Dale Street last Friday easily outdistances both categories.
“We’re really talking about a freak accident here,” said Fire Chief Gene Doherty, describing the scene where an elderly man was hit by a fire hose accidentally being dragged by a fire truck.
The fire engine motored up Park Avenue just after lunch last Friday as it headed to a call at the Prospect House.
Somehow, without official explanation as of yet, the fire hose on that engine began to unravel after the truck hit a pothole on Park Avenue.
The hose quickly unfurled to its full length – some 25 feet or more.
It flailed wildly as the engine dragged it down the street at a relatively rapid clip.
No one on the engine noticed right off.
By all accounts, it was extremely unusual.
At the same time, a 70-year-old Park Avenue man decided to take advantage of the sunny afternoon. He set out for a walk and some fresh air.
As he strolled down Park Avenue, making the turn onto Dale Street, the fire engine came up the street and made the same turn.
Following it though, was a treacherous tail – namely, the wildly flailing fire hose.
According to Fire Chief Gene Doherty, the hose made contact with the man’s leg, sending him directly to the ground, where he took a header into the concrete.
“As they turned the corner the hose hit the guy in the legs and knocked him to the ground and he hit his head,” said the chief. “He had lacerations and scrapes and was transported to Mass General in Boston.
“It was unbelievable,” continued the chief. “It was sickening to see that happen to someone. It appeared the hose slipped off and the firefighters on the apparatus didn’t know it. They were waved down by someone down the street and they were made aware of the guy who was down on the ground.”
Several neighbors in the area were alerted to the problem as the hose fell onto Dale Street and also took out a trash barrel on the sidewalk.
“I saw the guy on the ground,” said one neighbor. “We all thought he was dead until he started groaning.”
Doherty said the man was injured, but none of the injuries were life-threatening.
As for a solution to the situation, Doherty said that a similar incident happened a few years back on an older engine that was stationed on Ford Street.
No one was hurt in any of those incidents though, and this was a newer engine that wasn’t supposed to have that problem.
Meanwhile, the Department’s mechanic on Monday was installing some netting around all of the hoses on the engine in question, preventing any similar problems from occurring.