1 dead after fire truck collides with another vehicle in Poway

Victim identified as Evelyn Courtney, 19

POWAY, Calif. - Investigators are trying to determine what led to a deadly collision between a city of Poway fire engine and a Honda Accord in Poway early Thursday morning.

The fire engine collided with the smaller vehicle in the intersection of Poway and Midland roads around 4 a.m., killing a female passenger and seriously injuring the male driver.

According to authorities, the fire engine was responding to a medical call and had its lights and sirens on when the crash happened. Firefighters also told investigators they had the green light when their truck went into the intersection, 10News learned.

San Diego County sheriff's deputies said the crash occurred as the Honda was heading south on Midland Road and the engine was going eastbound on Poway Road.

None of the firefighters were injured.

A passenger in the Honda, identified as 19-year-old Evelyn Courtney, died at the scene. The sheriff's department identified the driver as 44-year-old Robbie Dean Gillespie, who was initially trapped in the car and had to be rescued. Medics rushed him to Palomar Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

The nature of the relationship between Gillespie and Courtney, who was single and lived with her parents in Poway, was not immediately clear.

Courtney's Facebook page indicates she was an aspiring model. She attended Mt. Carmel High School and Poway High School, 10News learned.

10News obtained a recording of the call firefighters made moments after the crash.

"We're involved in an automobile accident … we're pretty sure there are injuries to the other party," said the caller, sounding breathless over the phone. "Please respond first responders. We're in the intersection of Poway Road, no injuries to firefighters at this time."

"I heard that they were physically OK, but of course, this is an emotional thing any time you're involved in something like this," sheriff's Lt. Jeff Duckworth said about the firefighters involved in the crash.

Investigators said they are looking into the possibility that drugs or alcohol played a part in the collision, but it won't be clear until toxicology tests are conducted.  They are also looking at other possibilities.

"Weather conditions, conditions of vehicles, speed, direction of travel ... they will look and see if the driver was under the influence," said Duckworth.

10News cameras were rolling when deputies pulled out a bottle from the Honda and took it into evidence.

"I don't know anything other than it did appear to be a bottle of alcohol," said Duckworth about the bottle. "The contents of the car were strewn around, obviously from the impact, so I don't know where exactly they found it."

It is unclear when toxicology test results will be released.

As of 11:30 a.m., the intersection of Poway Road and Midland Road reopened after authorities shut it down for about seven hours to conduct their investigation.


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