MURRAY, Utah -- The Draper Fire Battalion Chief that was hit be a car on I-15, could be released from the hospital soon in what his department is calling nothing shy of a miracle.
“To hear your own personnel has been struck and injured in line of duty it's one of our greatest fears,” Draper City Fire Chief Clint Smith said.
Thursday was an evening riddled with bad weather and car accidents.
“There were treacherous driving conditions last night, accidents all over including Point of the Mountain,” Smith said.
Draper City Fire Battalion Chief, Bart Vawdrey was on the scene of a car accident on southbound I-15 near Point of the Mountain, no one thought the accident he was responding to would turn into another one involving him.
“Out of the corner of his eye, split second, was able to see a vehicle that lost control headed in his direction," Smith said. "He had just enough time to jump out of the way of the vehicle so it lessened the blow somewhat."
The car coming at more than 40 miles per hour sent Vawdrey flying 25-30 feet into traffic.
“I believe it was that experience that probably saved his life,” Smith said referring to Vawdrey’s 25 years of service as a firefighter.
Vawdrey couldn’t stand but was able to pull himself to safety and radio for help.
“He was the one talking on the radio, he was the one to help update dispatcher of that situation,” Smith said.
Vawdrey was Lifeflighted to IMC — lucky to be alive.
“When you have one of your own individuals struck on a freeway by a vehicle traveling an estimated 40 miles an hour maybe more and to have him come out of that with essentially bumps and bruises soft tissue injuries but no broken bones, and no internal injuries… in my mind it's a miracle that's he's in as good as condition as he his,” Smith said.
For Draper City Fire, an agency that has only been around for a year and a half, the news of the accident comes on the heels of the line of duty death of Battalion Chief, Matt Burchett.
“To have to have gone through what we have in a year and a half is at times very overwhelming,” said Smith.
“To have another such close call is one that gives me great pause,” he added.
Now the department is counting their blessings
“In my mind it's a miracle that we're standing here able to give a positive update today and focus more on the awareness side of things rather than on the devastating part of it that we could have had,” Smith said.
Smith said Vawdrey’s injuries could have been avoided had the driver simply slowed down and payed attention; they hope other drivers will use this as a reminder to take it slow in winter conditions, drop the distractions and always give first responders on the shoulder of the road space to stay safe.
At last report, Vawdrey was awaiting an MRI and further consultation, they are hopeful he will be released soon.