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North Charleroi junior firefighter in critical condition after accident

| Monday, April 22, 2013, 7:27 p.m.

A junior firefighter from North Charleroi is in critical condition after he sprinted into a moving vehicle while responding to fire call, according to state police.

Brandon Schwalb, 14, was taken via medical helicopter to Children's Hospital shortly after the 2:55 p.m. accident. A hospital spokeswoman said Schwalb is in critical condition.

Schwalb, a junior firefighter for Lock 4 Volunteer Fire Co., is the son of North Charleroi councilman Fred Schwalb, who is also first assistant chief for the fire department.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Lock Street and Lincoln Avenue (Route 88) at the Washington County entrance of the soon-to-be-completed John K. Tener Bridge, which links North Charleroi with Monessen.

According to Trooper Kevin Gabrovsek, Schwalb was running northbound on Lincoln Avenue toward the bridge when he dashed across the intersection and into the passenger side of a Jeep Compass driven by a 17-year old female. Police would not disclose the driver's name because she is a juvenile.

Based on multiple witnesses at the scene, Gabrovsek said Schwalb and the vehicle were traveling the same direction when a running Schwalb made a sharp right to run up Lock Street, Gabrovsek said.

“He ran right into her path of travel. Apparently, she didn't even know he was there until she saw and heard the collision,” he said. “All indicators he ran right in front of her and she had no time to react.”

Gabrovsek said there was no indication the driver was speeding. He was told Schwalb suffered an apparent broken leg and a possible hip fracture.

Lock 4 second assistant chief Mike Castner acknowledged that Schwalb was reacting to a minor fire call in neighboring Fallowfield Township and attempting to run up Lock Street to the fire station.

“He normally responds by foot when his family is at work. He had just gotten out of school,” Castner said. “We haven't even talked to the family.”

Charleroi Regional police initially responded but passed on the investigation to state police. Carroll Township police also responded for traffic control, as traffic was diverted for nearly four hours.

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