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Police Reconstruct Wednesday's Beltway Accident to Determine Cause

Police said it is too soon to tell whether a fire engine or tractor trailer is at fault for a beltway accident Monday that sent seven people to the hospital.

Prince George's County Police are reconstructing a major accident that occurred on the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway near Route 50 early Wednesday morning causing major delays and leaving seven people injured, police said.

Four firefighters, a tractor trailer driver, and two people from an SUV were taken to area hospitals for non-life threatening injuries, but one of the firefighters suffered critical injury to his arm, according to Lt. William Alexander, Prince George's police spokesman. 

The firefighter is a 30-year-old lieutenant whose arm was severed, according to WJLA, and he underwent nine hours of surgery to have it reattached.

The Prince George's Fire/EMS Department did not respond to inquiries into the firefighter's condition by publication time.

The accident occurred around 2:40 a.m. after a fire engine had been dispatched to help with a minor accident on the Inner Loop, according to Alexander. It took firefighters about six minutes to clear the scene and when finished, they were traveling southbound on the beltway, according to Alexander.

A preliminary investigation suggests the engine was slowing down to attempt a u-turn onto the Outer Loop of the beltway using an emergency vehicle turnaround or an access cutout — when it was struck by the tractor trailer, according to Alexander.

The collison resulted in a multi-vehicle accident involving the tractor trailer, the fire engine and an SUV, according to Alexander. The tractor trailer ended up on its side, and investigators are still trying to determine the SUV's involvement, according to Alexander.

The police's collision analysis reconstruction unit will talk to witnesses and examine the vehicles involved in the accident as well as examine evidence, such as tire marks, according to Alexander. Investigators hope to determine the position of the vehicles, their speed, and how each of them became involved in the accident, he said.

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