This April 30 will mark the 50th Anniversary of the tragic crash of two Lynbrook fire trucks that took the lives of three volunteer firefighters and a school crossing guard.
On that fateful day in 1963, just after noon and right after a rain storm, the Lynbrook Fire Department responded to a reported house fire at 331 Earle Avenue. Engine Company No. 1 from the Carpenter Avenue firehouse responded with six volunteers aboard and proceeded through the village and headed north on Hempstead Avenue to Peninsula Boulevard. Tally-Ho Engine Company No. 3 from the Horton Avenue firehouse, also responding with six volunteers, headed east on Merrick Road onto Peninsula. At the same time, Rosalie Roy, a Lynbrook schools’ crossing guard, was crossing children at the intersection of Hempstead and Peninsula.
Both fire engines, with their lights blazing and their sirens and horns blowing loudly, were driving towards the same intersection. Roy apparently saw the fire engines approaching from opposite directions and, possibly sensing a collision, ran back into the intersection trying to stop them. She had just walked a student from Our Lady of Peace across the intersection. It was reported back then that both drivers may have believed Roy was in the intersection to stop vehicular traffic for the benefit of their fire truck.
At approximately 12:08 p.m., the two fire trucks entered the intersection at the same time. The drivers could not stop on the rain slicked roadway and they collided with the sound of twisted medal that some say was louder than the blaring sirens and horns. Tally-Ho smashed into the rear of Engine Company and spun it around in the intersection, striking Roy before she had time to run back to the curb. She was hurled to the lawn in front of the Penbrook apartment building on the northeast corner. She died instantly. Engine Company also knocked down a light pole on the corner before stopping 20 feet north of the intersection. The street was littered with the bodies of the volunteers who had been thrown from their trucks.