A fire truck crashed into the driver’s side of a car carrying two Cal Poly students on Friday morning, sending the driver to the hospital with a fractured rib.
Biology junior Athena Norton had a green light at the intersection of Marsh and Santa Rosa Streets en route to driving her friend Mia White, a nutrition senior and president of the Cal Poly’s Democrats club, to Cal Poly for a lab.
“I didn’t hear the sirens or anything,” Norton said.
The truck, which was on its way to a medical call, T-boned the 1997 Ford Taurus, sending it into a 270 degree turn.
“I didn’t know what was going on at first,” White said. “I just felt the car spinning around. . . I couldn’t see anything because the airbag was in my face. I could just hear the horns and the sirens going off and then we hit the curb and stopped right away.”
Although the fire truck totaled Norton’s car, paramedics were just steps away and helped Norton and White immediately.
“I got a fractured rib and that still hurts a lot,” Norton said. “And then I had a tiny puncture to my lung but the doctor said it wasn’t anything to worry about.”
Norton was released from the hospital Friday night. White suffered several scratches and bruises, and neither lost consciousness.
“Everyone that was around said that if we didn’t have seatbelts or airbags, we could have died pretty easily,” White said.
Norton’s parents brought her back to their home in Oxnard on Saturday, where she will stay to heal until about Wednesday or Thursday, Norton said.
The fire truck that struck her car was not part of the San Luis Obispo Fire Department, but rather one of five that was called in after several local trucks were sent to Southern California to control the wild fires.
“It was a California Division of Forestry fire engine on a strike team assignment,” said Chris Slate, captain of San Luis Obispo fire truck one. “They had been here for a week.”
White said the fire truck driver was the first to check on her and Norton after the crash.
“He was the one who came out to make sure we were OK and weren’t dying,” she said. “But no one on their side was hurt because they were really high up. But the bumper of their fire truck almost came all the way off.”
White also said that a piece of the fire engine flew inside their car and all the way to the passenger side.
“I got some scrapes across my stomach and I think that (the piece) just flew through the car,” White said.
White and Norton first met about a year ago through Cal Poly’s Young Democrats club. The two have shared an apartment since the summer.