UPDATE: Three police, three firefighters injured in overnight incidents
Three Great Falls police officers and three firefighters were injured in three separate incidents overnight, according to an Oct. 19 post from Great Falls Police and Great Falls Fire Rescue.
Three firefighters and one police officer were struck by a vehicle while responding to a domestic disturbance on the east end of town.
During a press conference Saturday afternoon, GFPD Capt. John Schaffer said that at 4:45 a.m. Oct. 19, police and firefighters were struck by a vehicle while responding to the domestic disturbance in the Highwoods Mobile Home Park at 8th Avenue North and 38th Street North. GFFR responded since there were reports of injuries at the disturbance, Schaffer said.
The responders were out of their vehicles when they were struck by a vehicle driven by Scott Allen Jenks, according to Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki. The driver and vehicle were unrelated to the domestic disturbance, officials said.
All of the injured responders were treated at Benefis Health System, according to GFPD and GFFR.
GFPD Officer Zaine O’Meara suffered injuries to his face and shoulder and underwent emergency surgery this morning, Schaffer said.
He’s been with GFPD for about three years, is an active member of the Montana National Guard, an Army veteran and a former detention officer with the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, Schaffer said.
On Oct. 21, GFPD posted to its Facebook page that O’Meara had been released from the hospital.
In the post, O’Meara said: “I can not explain how grateful I am for the tremendous support my family and I have received. I am especially grateful to my GFPD, Great Falls Fire Rescue, Great Falls Emergency Services first responder family, and the medical staff at Benefis Health System, who all helped me survive this incident. For me to walk away from this situation with only a broken jaw and injured shoulder is an act of God, the injured firefighters and I are very lucky to be alive. I have seen the many comments of support from community members, thank you. It’s an honor to serve and I look forward to recovering quickly so I can get back out on the streets, where I am the happiest.”
GFPD Lt. Doug Otto said the Montana Highway Patrol is investigating the crash. GFPD has crash investigators, but Schaffer said since their officers are involved, they turned it over to the state agency.
Officials said that while the crash is under investigation they can’t release the details of how the responders were struck.
Schaffer thanked GFFR Capt. Jay Jarrett for physically detaining Jenks when O’Meara was unable.
Firefighter Jarrett, Carter Marsh and a third that the family asked not be named at this time were also struck by the vehicle.
GFFR Chief Steve Hester said they initially thought Jarrett had more serious injuries, but they were minor and he was treated and released.
Marsh underwent emergency surgery this morning for a broken leg, Hester said.
GFFR nearing paramedic staffing goal, eight firefighters almost finished with GFCMSU training
The third firefighter also underwent emergency surgery this morning and is in stable condition, Hester said.
Jenks had a blood alcohol level significantly over the legal limit, Racki said, and was taken into custody at the scene.
Jenks has been charged with three counts of negligent vehicular assault and one count of criminal endangerment, Racki said. He’s being held on a $100,000 bond.
Another officer sustained injuries to the arms ribs and a knee while arresting a combative juvenile at a party, where minors were consuming alcohol. The officer received medical treatment and was released, Schaffer said.
The third officer was injured when the officer was in a foot pursuit with a DUI suspect who fled the scene of a traffic then crashed into a residence and fled on foot, Schaffer said. That officer fell and sustained minor injuries, according to GFPD.
“Please keep these officers and firefighters, their families, and their team members in your thoughts and prayers as they recover from their injuries,” GFPD wrote in their morning Facebook post.
Firefighters train for mayday situations
In June, GFFR added a scenario to their mayday training involving a vehicle plowing through their scene when they’re responding to a fire or medical call.
In June, GFFR Lt. Nate Schmidt told The Electric the scenario was added in light of the uptick of first responders being struck while on scenes.