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Firefighters injured in crash share their rescue story


Special to The Press

By Susan Bryant


Three Good Will Fire Co. No. 1, Trexlertown, volunteer firefighters were injured in a crash involving their 2013 Ford Explorer and a 2004 Mitsubishi Outlander at 10:37 p.m. March 12 at Industrial Boulevard and Morris Court, Upper Macungie Township.

Firefighters Zach Shiffert, 25, of Allentown, and William Gillespie III and Dylan Robertson, both 18, of Breinigsville, were returning from training at the Montgomery County Fire Training Center, Conshohocken, when their vehicle was struck by the Mitsubishi.

The Explorer they were in is owned by Upper Macungie Township and used by various township agencies for general transportation.

In a March 19 interview at the fire station, two of the firefighters shared their experience with being rescued by their fellow fire department members.

Shiffert, who was the driver, told himself “this is going to hurt” as they were struck by the Mitsubishi.

Extensive rescue operations were needed to free him from the Explorer.

He and the other firefighters were transported by Cetronia Ambulance Corps to Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township, for treatment of injuries and were released early the next morning.

Robertson was later diagnosed with a fractured ankle and was having surgery the day of this interview.

Gillespie had to make an unusual call from his cellphone to his father, Goodwill Fire Company Assistant Fire Chief William Gillespie II.

“Dad, it’s us involved in the crash,” Gillespie told his father.

All three firefighters were relieved their fire department was responding to the crash scene.

Gillespie III and Shiffert both stated they “could have not expected a better outcome.”

According to Upper Macungie Township police, the Mitsubishi, driven by Jude Pierre-Louis, 32, of Dills-burg, allegedly failed to stop at a stop sign and struck the Explorer.

The Explorer was westbound on Industrial Boulevard. The Mitsubishi was traveling north, entering the roadway when the crash occurred.

Police say officers were dispatched to the scene for a report of the accident with injuries and entrapment.

At the time, the weather was clear and the roadway was dry.

Arriving on scene, officers saw the Mitsubishi was off the roadway in an embankment.

Police say as a result of the crash, Pierre-Louis was trapped inside his vehicle and had to be extricated by emergency personnel.

He was not injured, police say.

According to police, all occupants in the two vehicles were wearing their seat belts.

Pierre-Louis was charged with vehicles entering or crossing roadway, failure to stop at a stop sign and not having required financial responsibility.

PRESS PHOTO BY LOU WHEELAND Good Will Fire Co. No. 1, Trexlertown, firefighters William Gillespie III and Zach Shiffert, are seen with Station 25 Rescue that responded to a crash involving their vehicle and another vehicle at 10:37 p.m. on March 12. Gillespie, Shiffert and fellow firefighter Dylan Robertson were removed from their vehicle by their fellow firefighters.