NORTH CHARLEROI (KDKA) – A junior firefighter was critically injured after he was hit by a car while trying to cross the road to help on an emergency call.
The teen, 14-year old Brandon Schwalb, was living his dream. He’s wanted to be a firefighter from the time he was a child.
“I think he was like 8 or 9 years old, he would be here a the station with his dad,” says Mike Castner of the Lock Four Volunteer Fire Company. “He would be able walk around the truck and name all the tools on the truck.”
Schwalb’s Dad is an assistant chief with the company in North Charleroi.
His turn out gear hangs side by side with his son’s.
“He’s a great kid,” says firefighter Robecca Novotne. “I couldn’t say enough about him.”
On Monday afternoon around 3 p.m., Schwalb was crossing Rt. 88 at the Charleroi-Monessen Bridge when he was hit by a vehicle while trying to get to the firehouse just up the hill.
A woman was driving the SUV that struck him. The impact tossed the teenager 30 feet.
Lock Four Firefirefighters were heading out to help a neighboring fire company.
“As we were enroute to that call, we were dispatched for a call in our area for a vehicle vs. pedestrian accident,” said Castner.
When Engine No. 2 got there, they found Schwalb.
“He was breathing but unresponsive, down on the ground – he wouldn’t move at all,” said Castner.
The teen was flown to Children’s Hospital, put on a ventilator – suffering a bad concussion and a shattered leg.
“We’re still hearing he’s still in critical condition,” said Novotne. “He had the surgery this morning.”
In this tight-knit valley, everybody cares about everybody else.
“Especially when it’s someone you know, it’s very hard to keep your emotions at bay,” Castner said.
Schwalb’s fellow firefighters believe he’ll knit fast. He won’t to be away from the firehouse for long.
“This place means the world to him,” Castner said.