CRANE TOWNSHIP -- A fiery ambulance crash here Friday night claimed the lives of three Ohio EMTs and the two patients they were transporting from a previous wreck.
The ambulance from Antwerp EMS was headed south on county road 87 when it was hit broadside by a commercial truck traveling east on 176. Upon impact, the emergency vehicle burst into flames, the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported.
Reports indicate there were no stop signs at the intersection.
The EMTs killed in the 6:59 p.m. crash were identified as Sammy R. Smith, 64, Heidi McDougall, 31, and Kelly J. Rager, 25. The patients were Robert R. Wells, 64, and Armelda Wells, 60, of Hicksville.
Another EMT, Matt McDougall, 31, and the truck driver, Gerald D. Chapman Jr., 54, of Bryant, Ind., were injured and transported to the hospital.
McDougall, a police officer in nearby Hicksville, is also the chief of Antwerp EMS. He is expected to be released from the hospital in a few days, officials said Saturday afternoon.
Troopers have not identified which EMT was driving the ambulance. That information will be released pending further investigation.
The deadly crash has taken a toll on this community of about 1,650, said Ronald Farnsworth, village council president.
"Everyone knows everyone or are related to them," he said. "It's just awful."
The volunteer EMS company building is located beside the fire department, and many were members of both organizations.
The community gathered at the firehouse last night to comfort one another. "We're already a close-knit group. This has brought us even closer," Farnsworth said Saturday morning.
While the volunteers grieve, personnel from other nearby villages are handling calls, Farnsworth said.
Antwerp Fire Chief Ray Friend said a stress debriefing was held at the fire station Friday night. "We're all as close as family here."
Flags in the community are flying at half mast.
More information will be posted as it becomes available.