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Lock 4 junior firefighter remains in critical condition

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 12:56 a.m.

Brandon Schwalb, the Lock 4 junior firefighter who was hit by an SUV Monday while running to a fire call, underwent successful surgery to repair a broken femur Tuesday.

Schwalb's father, Fred, said his son was still listed in critical condition at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, but the family is holding out hope for a full recovery.

The accident occurred in North Charleroi at the intersection of Lock Street and Lincoln Avenue (State Route 88) at approximately 2:55 p.m. Monday. Schwalb was heading to answer a fire call at the station and collided with a Jeep Compass that was traveling in the same direction.

State police Tuesday evening said they did not anticipate filing charges against the driver, a 17-year old female who has not been identified because she is a juvenile.

Police also did not identify Schwalb as the victim Monday because he was a juvenile. His identity, first learned through various Facebook messages, was later confirmed by Lock 4 fire department officials.

Trooper Kevin Gabrovsek said the investigation is ongoing, pending results of the accident reconstruction, performed by three state troopers, but that initial findings determined the girl was not speeding through the intersection.

“None of the indicators, including witness statements and evidence taken at the scene, would indicate that abnormal speed was a factor,” he said. “All indicators from non-biased witnesses said the boy ran out in front of the car.”

Gabrovsek said the investigation could last two to three more weeks.

Lock 4 second assistant Chief Mike Castner said his fire department was setting up a bank account to benefit Brandon Schwalb and his family for medical expenses.

“Back here at home, all the Valley departments are pulling together,” Castner said. “It's starting to become national, and with Firehouse magazine, it's becoming their top story as well. You can see it on their website, www.firehouse.com.”

Schwalb is an eighth grader in the Charleroi Area School District. His science teacher, Howard Johnson, described him Tuesday as a “nice, quiet” boy who loves being active with the fire department.

“I always ask him every week, ‘Do you have any good fire stories? Did you have any calls?'” Johnson said. “I hope to be asking him that again soon.”

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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