Bethlehem (PA) Firefighter Cleared of Negligence in Fatal Accident

A jury cleared a Bethlehem firefighter who was sued in a civil trial over a fatal accident in 2008. Frank Dashner was driving a fire truck on the way to an emergency when the truck collided with a car driven by William Samer. Samer, 60, died of his injuries, and his family sought damages in a civil lawsuit, reports (

Police did not file criminal charges against Dashner, and in 2009, authorities determined he was not negligent as he was heading to an emergency. Fire departments around the region were paying close attention to the case and verdict.

Even though the jury favored the fire department, crews said the case serves as a reminder to always be careful while on the road.

“When we have a fire, it doubles every 30 seconds,” said Chief John Bast, Easton Fire Department.

For firefighters, time can be the difference between life or death. “It’s nerve-racking because we have a lot more traffic going to town. Frustrating for the drivers trying to get out of the way, because sometimes they have nowhere to go,” Bast added.

That was the crux of the civil case in Bethlehem.

“Fire departments, to do their job, have to be able, from time to time, go to the opposite lane,” said Robert Hanna Jr., a city attorney. 


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