A Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company paramedic was struck and killed by one of the company’s vehicles while assisting at the scene of an earlier crash on Patterson Mill Road in Emmorton Tuesday, emergency officials said.
Erik Steciak, 29, was among those responding to a crash in the 300 block of Patterson Mill Road shortly after 1:30 p.m., according to Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company spokesman Rich Gardiner.
At that time, a vehicle driving in the one-way direction toward Wheel Road left the roadway and struck an embankment. The driver was able to exit the vehicle and make her way up a driveway to a nearby home, whose owner she knew prior to the crash, according to Jennifer Chenworth-Price, a fire company spokeswoman.
Initial responders from the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company’s nearby Patterson Mill substation, including Steciak, arrived and determined that a four-wheel drive vehicle would be required to traverse the driveway, which was slick with ice and snow, and reach the victim.
Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company Utility 373, a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD equipped with a snow plow, arrived from the Patterson Mill substation a short time later. Steciak proceeded up the driveway near the vehicle at what Gardiner described as a “walking pace” when the vehicle began to slide. The vehicle struck the paramedic at approximately 1:51 p.m.
Steciak was treated at the scene and transported in grave condition by Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company ambulance to the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, where he later died. Steciak was a paid EMS employee who had worked for the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, Gardiner said late Tuesday night. In addition to his duties with the Bel Air company, he was also an active member of the West Friendship Volunteer Fire Company in Howard County. Funeral arrangements will be made public once final arrangements have been made.
The driver in the initial crash was taken by the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
An investigation into the accident by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office was underway Tuesday night; details of the exact nature of the fatal accident are pending the outcome of that report, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Cristie Kahler.
The driver of the fire company vehicle was a volunteer, according to Chenworth-Price. The driver has been suspended from driving duties pending the outcome of the investigation per standard procedure, she said.
Steciak’s line-of-duty death was the fourth among all Harford County companies and the second for the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, Chenworth-Price said.
An estimated 50 or 60 emergency responders, both Bel Air volunteers and others from across Harford County and as far away as Reisterstown, gathered at the Bel Air firehouse on Hickory Avenue shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday; fire chief Ricky Davis Jr. was with Steciak’s family at the time and not available for comment.
Chenworth-Price said the Bel Air company would be placed out of service through the night while they mourned their colleague; units from other Harford and Baltimore county companies would cover local calls.
“On behalf of County Executive Barry Glassman and Director Edward Hopkins, the Harford County Department of Emergency Services expresses our sincere sympathy to the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company and the West Friendship Volunteer Fire Company of Howard County on the tragic loss of Paramedic Erik Steciak this afternoon,” the department said in a statement on social media Tuesday night. “Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Paramedic Steciak’s immediate family, fire service family and loved ones.”