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McLean Firefighter Celebrated for Role in Bridge Rescue

(Updated 10:45 a.m.) — Lieutenant Eddie Payne, a firefighter at Station 1 in McLean, was recognized by the Sons of the American Revolution’s George Washington Chapter on Monday, Oct. 15 with a Fire Safety Award for his role in a dramatic rescue this summer.

On June 20, the Beltway came to a standstill as a tractor-trailer driver crashed into construction vehicles working on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The driver was killed and four of the vehicles caught fire, closing the bridge and clouding the sky with smoke.

Three construction workers were in a bucket under the bridge, attached to a boom truck that was caught in the accident, and were trapped as several local fire departments worked together with boat crews to rescue them.

Payne was off-duty at the time but stepped in to help coordinate the rescue of the workers. Bill Delaney, a public affairs officer for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, said Payne happened to see the chaos and was one of the first to try to get everyone organized.

“He called it in and was in communications with the 911 center to let them know what they were coming into,” said Delaney. “He was helping to coordinate what was going on while he was off-duty.”

Firefighters from Fairfax Station 11 near Alexandria and stations in Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County also received awards for their efforts.

“He took control of a very chaotic scene and kept a level head,” said the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in a Facebook post.

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