Witness Recounts Fatal Crash Between Bethlehem (PA) Fire Apparatus and Car

A witness to the fatal 2008 crash between a Bethlehem fire truck and a convertible testified she’s still haunted by the memories of the motorist’s last moments of consciousness. 

Amy Hagenbuch testified Tuesday morning she was waiting to turn onto Eighth Avenue from the Lowe’s parking lot Oct. 24, 2008 when she saw a fire truck with its siren blaring heading north. Although the light was about to turn green for her, she saw the truck cross over the double yellow line to get around stopped vehicles, so she stayed put in her turning lane, she said.

Hagenbuch testified she looked down at her ringing phone when she heard a crunch on the roadway. When she looked up, she saw a convertible had slammed sidelong into the the fire truck, she testified. Two cars, she noted, had already pulled over to let the fire truck pass.

A former EMT, Hagenbuch rushed to the crash to assist, and she and a firefighter removed a crumpled door to find William Samer badly injured inside.

Hagenbuch testified the accident so unsettled her she visited Samer in the hospital prior to his death, both to pay respects and in hopes of finding peace of mind. It didn’t help, she said, and she later suffered a nervous breakdown.

“He kept on asking me to help him. He couldn’t move his eyes, he couldn’t move his head, but he kept asking me to help him,” an emotional Hagenbuch said of the hospital visit.

He died in the hospital from traumatic brain injuries eight days after the crash, she said.

A Northampton County jury must now determine whether Bethlehem and Frank Dashner IV, the firefighter driving the truck, are liable for Samer’s death or whether he caused the fatal wreck by not pulling over.

Attorney Daniel Munley, representing Samer’s widow Judith Samer, is arguing Dashner violated city policy and the law when he steered the 17-ton truck toward southbound traffic. Attorney Robert Hanna, representing Dashner and the city, claims William Samer violated the law by not pulling over for an emergency vehicle like the other motorists did.

For more information, view lehighvalleylive.com

 

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