GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport Fire Department engineer is in a New Orleans hospital awaiting surgery after suffering severe injuries Saturday in what is being called a freak accident.
Mark Headrick was crushed between the truck and door facing while guiding the driver into the garage.
"I was sick to my stomach," said District Chief Billy Kelley. "It was one of those things, I'm with these guys you know, every third day. They're family."
Headrick, who is stationed at Fire Station 5, was one of two spotters mandated by protocol.
Chief Michael Beyerstedt called it a freak accident.
"Just a couple of things went wrong and caused a chain reaction that ended up with Mark being injured, and that's something we feel terrible about," said Beyerstedt.
Beyerstedt says the department is still investigating the accident. Headrick suffered a cut in the back of his head and a broken jaw.
While his injuries are not life threatening, Headrick is in stable condition and alert while waiting for surgery at LSU Medical Center in New Orleans.
But, it could have been a lot worse.
"If that truck wouldn't have stopped when it did, it could have easily crushed him and killed him," Beyerstedt said. "So, I mean, it was just a whisker away from being a fatal injury. So I think that's what's got everybody shaken up."
That includes the two firefighters who were working with Headrick at the time – who are too traumatized speak.
Beyerstedt says he's been getting phone calls and texts from all over the state expressing concerns.
Social media support has also been strong as has those within the firefighting community.
"We all come together, sure, that's natural," said engineer Jim Callais. "We always do that for anything. Deaths in the family or any tragedy that happens. We all pull together. That's just what we do."