Firefighter crushed in freak accident at fire station

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Joey Spitzenberger was just starting his shift today with the Little York Volunteer Fire Department at the fire station where he began his firefighting career as a 12 year old junior volunteer.

Then, much like the people he's helped save from wrecked cars and burning buildings, the 23 year old firefighter was in need of saving himself.

He was sitting on the bumper of a fire truck in the station garage, drinking a Gatorade, he told us, when a co-worker was parking a pickup. The trucks tires lost traction on the wet concrete and slid into the firetruck's bumper, trapping Spitzenberger.

Because the pickup was a high-profile model, the bumper hit Spitzenberger's chest. The truck was quickly put in reverse, and Spitzenberger fell to the ground.

"I closed my eyes when it happened," he said. "When I opened them, I asked myself, am I still alive? Then I felt the pain and I knew I was."

The benefit of an accident at a fire station is that paramedics are already on scene. They went into action, assessing his injuries. The concern was that he had been hit in the chest, so Life Flight was called.

"It was my first helicopter ride," he said.

About two hours later, he was released from the hospital. "My leg is bruised, my lower back. I have contusions to my chest and two cracked ribs." Simply put, "I feel like I've been hit by a truck."

The firefighters at the station house felt even worse. "Whenever it's one of your own, it's bad," said Little York VFD Chief Michael Grove, who also rejoiced that what could have been much worse, can instead be healed with time.

"He wanted to come back to work," Grove said. "I told him no- you have to stay home today - with pay."

Spitzenberger says he has no hard feelings toward the co-worker whose truck slid into him.

As for the lesson he learned, "it shows me that you're not invincible. because it can happen to you too." null
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