Firefighters Injured, 2 Arrested in Deadly Crashes in Irving

Three firefighters were injured, two people are in custody and the driver of a semi-truck is dead after three separate crashes took place in a matter of minutes Sunday morning.

Eastbound Texas Highway 183 was closed between Belt Line Road and Story Road and both directions of the service roads were also closed for several hours while authorities investigate. Westbound Texas 183 opened up after just a few hours of being closed.

According to Irving police, a firetruck was stopped on Highway 183 blocking traffic as police waited for a tow truck to remove a pickup involved in a drunken driving crash. The suspected drunken driver fled from his vehicle but was later found and arrested.

Police said the second part of the crash occurred when the driver of an 18-wheeler slammed into the back of the firetruck, causing it to spin 180-degrees and roll onto its side, injuring three firefighters in the process.

"I got the call this morning that no chief ever wants to get," Irving Assistant Chief Rusty Wilson said.

Irving Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Wilson said two of the firefighters were sitting on the front bumper and a third was standing in front of them. Two of them don't remember the impact.

Wilson said firefighters at a nearby station heard the impact and explosion.

"It's amazing to me that the injuries weren't much more serious," Wilson said. "I know that at impact they were evidently thrown for quite some distance."

Two of the firefighters were released from Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas before noon Sunday and a third required more observation but was released Monday, officials said.

Wilson described their injuries as bumps and bruises.

Police said the driver of the 18-wheeler, identified as 55-year-old Ilian Lalev, died at the scene. Investigators believe Lalev may have suffered from a medical condition prior to hitting the firetruck, but an official cause has not been released.

Irving police said a third crash happened when a second suspected drunken driver hit a police vehicle that was blocking traffic and setting up road flares following the second crash. The officer wasn't in the vehicle, but the driver was arrested.

Chief Wilson said firefighters are at the mercy of other drivers when they're on highways doing their job and that his department is not the first to deal with such issues.

"We can replace a truck, we can't replace firefighters," Wilson said. 

NBC 5's Chris Van Horne contributed to this report.

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