Officials identify firefighter injured in hit-and-run crash

Matthew Gallant, center (Photo courtesy of Paul Doughty)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence fire officials have identified a firefighter who was injured in an overnight hit-and-run crash.

Police tell Eyewitness News that an SUV and a truck collided on the Smithfield Avenue overpass around 2 a.m. near Silver Spring Street.

Paul Doughty, president of the Providence Firefighters Union, told Eyewitness News the victim is Providence firefighter Matthew Gallant. According to Doughty, Gallant was off-duty at the time of the crash.

“He’s in critical condition, he has serious internal injuries and has significant injuries to his lower extremities,” Doughty said Sunday afternoon. “I’m told the other driver crossed the center line and struck Matt’s pickup head on.”

According to Doughty, Gallant was rushed into surgery after rescue crews pulled him from his truck.

“It was one of the most difficult extrications they’ve seen. They had to use the Jaws of Life and it took almost 30 minutes to remove him from the pickup truck,” he said.

Officials said the driver ran on foot away from the scene.

Saturday afternoon, police told Eyewitness News they had identified a suspect. That suspect, whose name is not being released at this time, showed up at an area hospital for with injuries. When police arrived to arrest him, he ran again.

Many of the responders at the scene knew Gallant, who has been with the department for two years.

Doughty said he is well loved by his colleagues and has a “very dry sense of humor.”

“He’s the Providence Fire Department hipster,” he joked.

While police investigate the crash, Doughty said firefighters are digesting the unsettling news.

“This one was all too close and all too personal to many of the rescuers there,” he said. “It was touch and go last night, so we’re glad that he got through surgery, that his internal injuries have been taken care of up to this point. But it’s still unsettling, just goes to show you how fragile life is and it could happen to anyone at any time.”

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to contact Providence police.

Colin Spence & Neil Remiesiewicz contributed to this report.

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