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VALLEY NEWS

Woman, 70, Dies After Fire Engine Hits Her Pickup Truck

March 06, 2001|GRACE E. JANG | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NORTH HOLLYWOOD — A 70-year-old woman was killed Monday when her truck was struck by a Los Angeles Fire Department engine that was on a medical run, authorities said.

Delores Collins of North Hollywood was eastbound on the 11100 block of Camarillo Street when medical and fire vehicles with horns blaring and lights flashing came up behind her, witnesses and authorities said.

Collins, who lived on the block, was turning left in an apparent attempt to get out of the way when her Dodge Ram pickup truck was hit by a fire engine trying to pass her on the left.

Collins was pronounced dead on arrival at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Battalion Chief Daryl Arbuthnott said.

A similar fatality occurred two years ago in the Fairfax District, but such accidents are rare, said Brian Humphrey, a Fire Department spokesman.

"Our firefighters are clearly shaken," he said. "These kinds of collisions happen during just a fraction of the percentage of responses we make."

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the accident, said Officer Guillermo Campos, a department spokesman.

An 89-year-old woman, the subject of the original emergency call, died of a heart attack, but not because medical aid was delayed, Humphrey said. An emergency medical vehicle traveling with the fire engine continued on to the woman's home, he said.

"I can't stress this enough," Arbuthnott said. "When you see a firetruck or any emergency vehicle, you have to pull over to the right and stop. If you can't, then just stop where you are and the engine will move around you, or we'll direct you on the loudspeaker."

Drivers should signal before pulling over and wait until the emergency vehicles have passed. The emergency vehicles also make sudden turns, so drivers should not follow too closely, Humphrey said.

Collins, who once worked as an aircraft mechanic, was a "a firecracker who didn't take no grief from anybody," said neighbor Blake Boyd.

"When I was sick, she brought me lemons and tea," said Pauline Francisco, who lived next door. "She always went to the market for me. She was just telling me yesterday that she put in her sprinkler system. She was so excited. . . . I can't believe she's gone. Where else am I going to find a good neighbor like that?"

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