PALM HARBOR — A routine call to the scene of a vehicle crash on U.S. 19 turned tragic for one Palm Harbor firefighter during the early morning hours of Sept. 22.
Florida Highway Patrol and Palm Harbor Fire Rescue responded to the crash that occurred about 3:23 a.m. on northbound U.S. 19 at Innisbrook Drive.
According to FHP, a sedan driven by a 53-year-old Tarpon Springs man was stopped at a traffic signal in the inside lane of U.S. 19 when he was struck from behind by a another sedan being driven by a 35-year-old woman from Clearwater.
When Palm Harbor Fire Rescue arrived on the scene, two firetrucks provided a safety barrier by blocking the left turn lane, inside lane and inside center lane and firefighters began helping the injured. A few minutes later, a pickup truck traveling northbound at what Fire Chief Scott Sanford described as a high rate of speed collided with the right side of both fire trucks and then struck Lt. Ashley White,
Sanford said firefighters immediately called for more resources and began rendering aid to both White and the driver of the pickup truck, identified as a 26-year-old man from Ironton, Ohio.
The unidentified man was transported to AdventHealth North Pinellas where he later died. White was transported to Bayfront Health with life-threatening injuries. The drivers of the sedans both suffered minor injuries.
At a press conference the morning of Sept. 23, Sanford provided an update on White’s condition. He said she had suffered blunt trauma to her entire body with multiple fractures to her left leg and left arm. She also had cuts and lacerations all over her body.
White had her first of what will be several surgeries on her left leg the afternoon of Sept. 22, and after six hours the surgeons were pleased with the outcome, Sanford said.
She was scheduled for surgery on her left arm on Sept. 23 but it was postponed until Sept. 24. Palm Harbor Fire Rescue reported on its Facebook page that the surgery to repair White’s broken arm had gone as scheduled and she was doing “very well.”
Sanford said as of the morning of Sept. 23, White was “alert and oriented and responding appropriately to family and friends, and we’re thankful for that.” He said White is a “strong and tough firefighter,” adding that this is an emotional time for everyone.
He thanked the community for its “outpouring of support” for White and the members of Palm Harbor Fire Rescue.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up for donations at https://gofund.me/99c64cff. As of the afternoon of Sept. 24, nearly $61,000 had been raised to help White and her husband Lt. Kevin White with Clearwater Fire & Rescue and their daughter Zo.
Donations also can be made at Fire Station 65, 250 West Lake Road.
White was released from the hospital on Sept. 28 and has already started physical therapy.
“The recovery will be measured in months and years not days and weeks,” Sanford said.
Suzette Porter is TBN's Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Revised to show that White has been released from the hospital.