Local News

Raleigh firefighter critical after school-bus wreck

Posted December 4, 2009 7:33 a.m. EST
Updated December 8, 2009 2:18 p.m. EST

— A Raleigh firefighter driving home from work Friday morning was critically injured in a three-vehicle wreck involving a Wake County school bus.

Lt. Harry P. "Flip" Kissinger IV, 35, of Wake Forest, suffered from significant injuries, including head trauma, and was taken to WakeMed, said Rusty Styons, an assistant chief with the Raleigh Fire Department.

Kissinger is a lieutenant at Fire Station 6, at Oberlin and Fairview roads, and has been with the department for 12 years, Styons said. He is married and has two daughters.

The drivers of the bus and a second car suffered minor injuries, authorities said. Seven students from Southeast Raleigh High and Centennial Middle schools, who were on the bus, were not injured.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol said the wreck happened at about 6:30 a.m. on Ligon Mill Road near Louisburg Road, when the bus going east, driven by Sheila Wimbush Hall, 52, of Garner, and a station wagon traveling west collided. The bus then crossed the center line, striking Kissinger's pickup truck head-on.

The bus crashed into a ditch, with the cab of the pickup crushed beneath it. It took rescuers about 45 minutes to remove Kissinger from the truck, troopers said.

The station wagon, driven by Angelica Perry, 23, of Raleigh, ended up in a driveway on the opposite side of the road and left skid marks across the road.

"A nurse was in line in traffic. She came over and helped attend to the injured guy in the pickup truck," said Tony Stutts, a resident who witnessed wreck. "There was a sheriff's deputy in line also, which was good,"

Authorities are still investigating the wreck, and it was unclear who was at fault in the crash.

Wake County Public School System spokesman Michael Evans said a supervisor went to the wreck scene, and the school system is awaiting the outcome of the wreck investigation by state troopers.

"Right now, we're cooperating with the state Highway Patrol as they investigate the scene," he said. "Then, following their decisions and the outcome of their investigation, then we'll do our investigation."

Meanwhile Friday, dozens of firefighters packed the waiting room at WakeMed waiting for news on Kissinger's condition.

"We're supposed to be out there helping people, and today the tragedy struck one of our own, and it's different to us," Styons said.

Styons said Kissinger has been working to make captain's rank.

"You know, being a firefighter is something special," Styons said. "He's just the kind of guy who makes it fun to come to work," Styons said. "He's a good family man, a great husband, father of two wonderful young daughters, and you know, we're hoping for the best."