By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — WJZ reviewed the emergency dispatch calls that came out just before 7:30 p.m. Thursday when a fire truck collided with a dirt bike rider in Southwest Baltimore’s Carrollton Ridge neighborhood at Pratt and Payson. It was initially reported as a pedestrian struck.

Witnesses told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren the rider was dragged several feet. His shoe was left in the middle of West Pratt Street. “He was just riding down the street for real. I guess he wasn’t paying attention.”

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The fire truck was yanking on the horn and ran straight into him. His head was under the tire. It dragged him across the whole street,” said one eyewitness who spoke on camera but declined to give his name.

“The truck had its siren on?” Hellgren asked. “It was hitting the horns. Definitely doing its job,” the witness said. He noted loved ones showed up almost immediately. “Once we told them that was him under that white sheet, they started to break down crying.”

Another witness told Hellgren the scene was gruesome, something he will never forget.

“You can lose your life in the matter of a second for real. It’s crazy,” he said. “Shocking. That’s how I felt. Shocking. I haven’t seen anything like that. I see gun violence almost every day, but something like that, I haven’t ever seen nothing like that.”

The fire truck was headed to a call at the time. Counseling was provided for those involved.

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Dirt bikes have long been a part of Baltimore’s culture even though they are illegal on city streets. The mayor tells WJZ this is about more than police enforcement.

“Our police department is engaged with dirt bikes all the time. It’s much deeper than that. It’s about how we’re working with the dirt bike riders and getting them to do that in a controlled, in a safe place,” Mayor Brandon Scott said. He also referred to what happened as a “tragedy” but said he was unable to talk about specific details of an “ongoing investigation.”

Brittany Young with the nonprofit organization B-360 works with riders and is trying to set up a permanent dirt bike park. She managed to secure a temporary space for riders at the B&O Railroad Museum’s parking lot.

“People should think about this as somebody’s child—somebody’s brother, somebody’s sister,” Young told Hellgren. “This was something I’ve been saying for years was going to happen, and I don’t like to be right in these situations.”

She said dirt bikers need their own space and should not be criminalized—and pointed to efforts to make safe spaces for skateboarders. “What we’re not looking for is people to point fingers and blame the rider but instead to have empathy and to give that family some time to grieve.”

You can read more about B-360 here.

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