FREMONT - A citywide Independence Day celebration took a tragic turn when an antique tow truck reportedly went out of control, injuring multiple people during Fremont’s annual Fourth of July parade.
At least five people were taken to the Fremont Memorial Hospital Tuesday morning, according to Fremont Police Chief Dean Bliss. One man was later transported to a Toledo-area hospital by LifeFlight helicopter.
The crash occurred around 10:30 a.m., a half hour after the parade began, on Croghan Street near the intersection of Arch Street, a few blocks from the beginning of the parade route.
The driver of the 1951 Reo wrecker tow truck lost control of the vehicle and crashed into two farm tractors before hitting parade watchers, according to police.
Emergency medical workers from Sandusky County EMS were in the parade, not far behind where the incident occurred, and immediately responded to the scene.
Sgt. Belinda Rosenberger said the incident is still under investigation. She said the tow truck appeared to have some type of "malfunction" but they have not yet determined exactly what caused the crash.
“You could tell he was out of control, but he was trying miss people,” said John Pemberton, who was watching the parade with his wife, Rosemary, right in front of where the incident began.
They said it appeared the wrecker tow truck may have lost its brakes and they saw it just “fly by” past them as people started scattering to get out of the way.
After hitting a tractor in front of it, according to the witnesses, the driver of the tow truck veered to the left in an attempt to avoid people, as a large group was on the other side to the right.
“He was trying to avoid a worse situation,” Rosemary said. “He had that steering wheel and he was trying to avoid everything. He was trying his hardest to not hit anybody.”
They then saw the tow truck strike a man on the left side of the road.
“We’ve been coming to this parade for probably about 40 years and nothing like this has ever happened,” Pemberton said. “It’s just unbelievable.”
“Thank the Lord that the EMS came right away,” Rosemary said. “They were the next ones in the parade.”