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'I'm going to check on my firefighter': Firefighters relieved knowing volunteer involved in crash expected to survive

A Flaherty fireman and a sedan driver were flown to UofL Hospital with what police called possible life-threatening injuries. They're now expected to recover.

MEADE COUNTY, Ky. — Families in Meade County are breathing sighs of relief following a three-vehicle crash that resulted in two men being airlifted to the hospital, including a volunteer firefighter.

After initially warning of the possibility of life-threatening injuries, Kentucky State Police (KSP) said Wednesday that both men are expected to recover.

KSP said it happened just before 7:45 p.m. Tuesday at an intersection in Ekron, Kentucky, near Vine Grove. Police said a Meade County ambulance was traveling north on Joe Prather Parkway on an emergency call when it was hit by a driver of a 2006 Chevrolet Impala, which was moving west on US 60.

The collision caused the ambulance to roll over and hit long-time Flaherty Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Lloyd Claycomb, who KSP said was collecting donations for Crusade For Children near the intersection. The ambulance then hit a 2021 Ford F-350.

Claycomb and the driver of the Impala, Billy Smith, were flown to University of Louisville Hospital.

On Wednesday afternoon, Flaherty Fire Chief Roger Rose confirmed Claycomb will be okay. He said his team are finally exhaling, as they've taken trips to see him.

"Lloyd's in good spirits, he's just in a lot of pain," Rose said. "I can relax a little bit more, but I still know I have to go back there today. And it doesn't matter what time, I'm going to check on my firefighter."

Rose said Claycomb was doing what he's done passionately for years: Helping to collect donations for a great cause. He said Claycomb spent a large portion of Memorial Day weekend at the intersection with fellow firefighter and son Joey Claycomb for the effort. The post is one of a couple locations Flaherty Fire Department sets up just off the road.

"We're very fortunate, this could have turned out a lot worse than it did," said KSP Trooper Scotty Sharp, who handles public affairs for Post 4 in Elizabethtown. "We're in that time of year right now. Volunteer firemen are setting up. We just need to be aware when you're out driving around."

KSP said the ambulance had its lights and sirens going when passing through, but Smith reportedly didn't notice.

Meanwhile, following the incident, Rose said they're putting their post on Joe Prather Parkway on hold for now. And he'll make the call whether to keep it that way, for safety, in the years to come.

For now, he offered this bit of advice.

"Slow down, be aware, and quit being in a hurry everywhere you gotta go," Rose said.

As for Smith, KSP said he's expected to survive as well but did not yet release the extent of his injuries.

The ambulance driver and one passenger were taken to Baptist Health Hardin for non-life-threatening injuries.

Supporting Heroes, whose mission is to "honor the service and sacrifice of public safety heroes who give their lives in the line of duty," released a statement about the crash.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Meade County, Kentucky EMS crew members who were injured in an ambulance crash earlier this evening."

The collision is currently under investigation.

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