‘A tragic event that was unforeseen’: 3 remain hospitalized after struck by power line in Valdosta

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Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 7:26 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2021 at 7:30 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Two firefighters and one police officer remain hospitalized after Monday’s incident when a power line came down on Madison Highway near Dampier Street.

Another firefighter was released Monday night.

In a press conference at South Georgia Medical Center Tuesday morning, city leaders talked about what happened and gave updates.

City officials held presser at SGMC for update on 4 injured.
City officials held presser at SGMC for update on 4 injured.(WALB)

“One firefighter is still being observed for injuries. I did have one firefighter that suffered below the knee amputation on the scene,” said Chief Brian Boutwell with the Valdosta Fire Department.

A police officer’s face was injured.

Police Chief Leslie Manahan says he got up, dazed and confused.

Other officers took him to the hospital after he selflessly asked for ambulances to be used for others hurt.

He’s in stable condition as of Tuesday afternoon.

Chief Manahan and Fire Chief Boutwell say they’ve never experienced something like this in their many years of working alongside each other.

“We run thousands of calls, lines downs, lines in the roadways especially that are storm-related, all personnel operated on the scene just as we always did, following protocol. It was just a tragic event that occurred that was unforeseen,” said Chief Boutwell.

“In the position I am, I never want to deal with anything like this ever again,” said Chief Manahan.

When the fire department arrived, a police officer was already there directing traffic around the downed line.

While crews were securing the area, we’re told a semi-truck drove over the line, causing a power pole to fall and hit people near it.

“We had vehicles that were being directed to drive-thru the area, unfortunately, as they were driving through, a semi accidentally picked up one of the wires and pulled it and when they pulled it, the power pole broke. Which caused the power pole to break in half and shoot across the road,” said Chief Manahan.

If you would like to help the families of the four hurt, there’s a fund set up at Guardian Bank to help with medical expenses.

“This is a tragic situation and it shows the family that we have and the city, the community support that we’ve been getting is incredible and our prayers and thoughts are really with the families right now,” said Chief Manahan.

Manahan says the driver stopped and stayed on the scene.

Georgia State Patrol is investigating this incident but says the driver of the semi will not be facing any charges.

Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk says one of his units was near when this happened and was able to give aid to that firefighter who suffered below the knee amputation.

“Anytime another agency has a bad situation, we’re glad to help and vice versa. We’re all doing the same job, just wearing different uniforms, so when one agency has a problem, someone gets hurt, everybody is going to come to them and be right there with them,” said Sheriff Paulk.

He says it’s common for agencies to help each other in times of need.

Four Valdosta first responders injured after down power pole.
Four Valdosta first responders injured after down power pole.(WALB)

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