Northeast Tarrant

Trucker killed, firefighters injured in Irving highway crash

Workers prepare to remove debris from a burned tractor trailer truck at the scene of a fatal wreck on Texas 183 in Irving Sunday. The truck driver died at the scene. A fire truck was struck by the tractor trailer truck, injuring three firefighters.
Workers prepare to remove debris from a burned tractor trailer truck at the scene of a fatal wreck on Texas 183 in Irving Sunday. The truck driver died at the scene. A fire truck was struck by the tractor trailer truck, injuring three firefighters. Star-Telegram

A truck driver was killed in a fiery crash on Texas 183 Sunday morning after his 18-wheeler hit an aerial ladder fire truck, seriously injuring three firefighters, said police and fire officials.

Police identified the truck driver as Ilian Lalev, 55, of Dallas, who died at the scene when the cab of his truck burst into flames shortly after hitting the fire truck.

One firefighter suffered a concussion and the two other firefighters had cuts and bruises in the crash, which was reported shortly after 4 a.m. in the eastbound lanes of Texas 183 between Belt Line and Story roads. As of 9:30 a.m., one firefighter had been released and a second was expected to be released Sunday from Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. A third firefighter was in fair condition at the Dallas and he was expected to stay overnight for observation.

Minutes after the crash, a patrol car working the fatal wreck was hit by another vehicle. The officer was not in the vehicle and was not injured. The patrol car was damaged, and the motorist was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

The chain of events began shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday as police and firefighters responded to a major accident in the eastbound lanes of Texas 183 involving a white GMC pickup.

“The driver had fled the scene on foot after abandoning his vehicle,” said Officer Stephen Burres, an Irving police spokesman, on Sunday. He said officers apprehended the driver several yards down the road and arrested him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

The aerial ladder fire truck with its emergency lights on stayed at the scene to help block traffic while wrecker removed the wrecked pickup, police said.

A few seconds later, the eastbound 18-wheeler traveling at highway speed hit the back of the fire truck.

“We don’t know if the driver managed to touch the brakes or not,” Burres said. “We don’t know if the driver fell asleep or had a medical condition.”

The collision sent the fire truck spinning 180 degrees and causing it to roll over once, ending up on the passenger side, police said. The fire truck had been facing east, but ended up facing west.

Two firefighters had been sitting on the front bumper and a third was standing in front of them at the time of the collision, said Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Wilson on Sunday.

“The two on the front bumper were thrown off toward the service road,” Wilson said who was at the Dallas hospital Sunday morning. “The third firefighter doesn’t remember much of what happened to him.”

Crews remained on the scene Sunday morning as they tried to move the 18-wheeler and the fire truck off the highway. Other crews also worked to remove fuel and transmission fluid from the eastbound lanes of Texas 183.

The eastbound lanes and the service road of Texas 183 between Belt Line and Story roads were scheduled to be closed for several hours Sunday, police said.

Police had not identified the motorist arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

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