St. Johns County (FL) Fire Chief Ordered Fire Apparatus Block Driver

A St. Johns County Fire Rescue operations chief ordered a fire truck to block a hit-and-run suspect in a neighborhood where the crash happened, and advised other trucks where the pursuit was going, according to radio calls released by the Fire Department Monday.

A 17-year-old was involved in a hit-and-run crash about 10:45 p.m. Nov. 24 at the intersection of San Juan Drive and Ponte Vedra Boulevard, and continued to speed through the neighborhood, according to St. Johns County deputies.

St. Johns County Fire Rescue Operations Chief Kurt Kaunath lives in that neighborhood and was off duty at the time. He heard the crash and went to investigate, but the teen left the scene.

That is when Kaunath jumped in his county truck and followed the teen. Then he got on the radio with his co-workers responding in Engine 10, a brand new truck.

The chief was still following the teen and asked for the firefighters’ help to keep the driver from getting away. Kaunath asked the engine to block the road.

The Fire Department defended the actions of its operations chief, who’s been with the department for 28 years. The department released a statement, which reads:

“SJCFR has completed an internal inquiry into the incident and determined although the events described above are certainly not a normal occurrence, the Operations Chief was acting in the interest of public safety, the protection of the injured juvenile driver and the public traveling in the area. The intent of following the vehicle and order to block a road was not meant to place fire rescue crews at greater risk than many other emergency events encountered.”

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