State, Local Officials Investigate Fire Truck Crash
34-Year-Old Firefighter, Paramedic Killed Collision

POSTED: 5:24 p.m. CDT April 28, 2004
UPDATED: 8:58 p.m. CDT April 28, 2004

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CHICAGO -- State and local officials are investigating the crash between a Stone Park fire engine and a Northlake fire engine that killed 34-year-old firefighter Jeffrey Bergstrom.

According to an initial accident report supplied to the Cook County medical examiner's office, the fire trucks "T-boned" in the intersection of Mannheim Road and Armitage Avenue, causing one of the trucks to roll over. The trucks were responding to the same call of a fire at a Leyden Township garage.

Investigators with the Melrose Park Police Department are looking into the cause of the collision, NBC5's Anita Padilla reported. They're recreating the scene by compiling information from the crash site. Some of the information comes from the truck's so-called black box, which logs the speed and braking information.

Also, a private engineering company will assist in the investigation by looking at the engines involved.

Investigators also will look into whether the sensors that are mounted on the intersection's stoplights failed. Among the questions was whether either truck had activated a traffic control system that allows emergency vehicles to switch a traffic light from red to green.

Illinois State Police District Chicago sent two traffic crash reconstruction officers to the scene to investigate the cause of the crash, a state police representative said. Those officers are specially trained in determining momentum, speed, vectors, and other causes of the accident. Cook County sheriff's police also responded to the scene, a sheriff's police representative said, but had no further details.

A final report on the cause of that crash won't be available for several days, if not weeks, investigators said.

One firefighter, Ricardo Mendoza, is still hospitalized at Loyola in critical but stable condition. Stone Park firefighters have set up a special fund set up for Mendoza with the Stone Park Firefighter Fund to help the firefighter defray medical expenses. Donations can be made to: International Bank of Stone Park, 1615 N. Mannheim Road, Stone Park, Ill. 60165.

The third firefighter on the Stone Park truck, Matt Durand, 27, was treated and released from Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.

The three firefighters riding in the Northlake fire truck suffered minor injuries, and were all treated and released Tuesday night.

Other units were able to respond to the garage fire and got it under control.

Photo Jeffrey Bergstrom