NASHVILLE, TN — The Nashville Fire Department suspended a veteran firefighter for 20 days after he hid his nephew under turnout gear inside a fire truck following a West Nashville crash in February.
On February 18, a white SUV careened into a ditch near the intersection of Highway 100 and Old Harding Pike, prompting a slew of 911 calls. One witness told police the driver of the car appeared to be "intoxicated" and that one of the firefighters had taken the driver into the fire truck.
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The witness said that fire crews told him to leave. Once police arrived, according to the crash report, the SUV was empty and the firefighters said the car was empty when they arrived.
The police report says the officers could not get the name of the responding firefighters but noted they "spoke with an older male white around 40 to 50 years old, 6 foot 4 with short gray hair and a medium build."
The officers then asked dispatch to call back one of the 911 callers and ask him to return to the scene. That witness then said he saw the SUV in the ditch with headlights on and engine running, with a non-responsive man in his mid-20s slumped over in the driver’s seat. The witness then relayed to the police that he saw the firefighters taking the man toward the truck.
The captain that day was Michael Terry, a 26-year NFD veteran, and the driver of the SUV was his nephew, Ben Coode. An NFD disciplinary report says that Terry placed his nephew in a ladder truck and hid him under turnout gear and took him back to the station.
According to the report, none of the other members of the crew knew the nephew was in the truck.
"We hold all of our personnel to the highest standard of professionalism and integrity. we addressed this matter as soon as we learned of it and took disciplinary action," NFD spokesman Joseph Pleasant said in a statement.
Terry told WSMV he placed Coode in the truck "to make sure he got home safely."
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