Man arrested after 2 firefighters, 1 other person hurt in South Memphis crash

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Three people were taken to the hospital after getting hit by a car in the early morning.

At approximately 3:10 AM, Memphis Police responded to a person hit by a car on I-240 and Kerr Avenue.

One person was taken to Regional One in critical condition, two additional people were taken to local hospitals in non-critical, police said.

MFD has confirmed to FOX13, that the two in non-critical are MFD firefighters.

Police also said that the driver responsible, Reginald McKenzie, 48, stayed at the scene.

McKenzie was charged with failure to exercise due car, driving under the influence, failure to stop for an emergency vehicle, and reckless driving, according to MPD.

Fire Chief Gina Sweat said drivers refusing to slow down and move over is a constant threat to first responders that she has grown tired of.

“I woke up angry this morning,” Sweat said. “I’m angry because our first responders risk their lives every day anyway. Most people think running into a burning building is the most dangerous thing we do, but actually it’s operating on the roadways here in the city.”

Just last month, a Memphis firefighter was killed in a crash on the way to a scene. Then, on Friday, a TDOT worker was killed on I-55.

Sweat said she spoke to Mayor Jim Strickland Sunday to advocate for stronger penalties for violating move-over laws in the city.

“As a fire chief, that call at 3:00 in the morning is not one you ever want to get,” she said. “Our firefighters are on the scene trying to help somebody and out of the blue, someone comes around their emergency vehicles and actually strikes them.”

Sweat said one of the firefighters was released from the hospital Sunday, but the other is still there.

“They have to have surgery for the injuries,” she said. “They don’t appear to be life-threatening, so that’s the good news. It was an extremely close call this morning.”

When first responders are involved in a crash, Sweat explained, it slows down response times and means other emergency crews must head to that accident in addition to the ones they are already dealing with.

“Every year, year over year, we are responding to more accidents,” Sweat said. Almost 15,000 accident scenes we responded to last year- that’s 40 a day. It takes up a lot of our valuable resources when we could be doing other things.”

No bond has been set yet for McKenzie. He is due in court Monday morning.

Memphis Fire Chief, Gina Sweat, released a statement on Facebook, to call on the public to slow down and move over when they see emergency crews:

Seriously Memphis drivers, it is ridiculous that you continue to crash into our Fire & EMS apparatus but when you seriously injure our 1st responders it is unforgivable. Slow down and move over so we can do our jobs without fear of being assaulted by your vehicles

FOX13′s reporter Jack Bilyeu, spoke with James Garcia, the person responsible for creating the move-over laws back in the 1990s, after he was hit by a driver while working as a paramedic in South Carolina.

Garcia said that 65 first responders were killed by drivers while working a scene in 2021.

He also said the majority of accidents, are caused by drivers speeding to get around a scene.

“People that are in a hurry, people that are entitled, people that think I don’t want to wait, I’ve got something to do. We have good campaigns for drunk driving and distracted driving, but nobody is talking about the 71% cause of these deaths and injuries, are people that say I’m in a big hurry. I’m more important,” Garcia said.

RELATED: TDOT worker hit and killed on Memphis interstate

TDOT workers are also protected by Tennessee’s move-over law.

Tennessee was the 13th state to adopt the law.

The penalty for violating is a maximum $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.


Reginald McKenzie faces four charges- including a DUI- for the crash that sent two firefighters and the person they were treating to the hospital.

The Memphis Fire Department reported crews were responding to a separate crash on I-240 early Sunday morning when a driver crashed through the scene.

Fire Chief Gina Sweat said drivers refusing to slow down and move over is a constant threat to first responders that she has grown tired of.

“I woke up angry this morning,” Sweat said. “I’m angry because our first responders risk their lives every day anyway. Most people think running into a burning building is the most dangerous thing we do, but actually it’s operating on the roadways here in the city.”

Just last month, a Memphis firefighter was killed in a crash on the way to a scene. Then, on Friday, a TDOT worker was killed on I-55.

Sweat said she spoke to Mayor Jim Strickland Sunday to advocate for stronger penalties for violating move-over laws in the city.

“As a fire chief, that call at 3:00 in the morning is not one you ever want to get,” she said. “Our firefighters are on the scene trying to help somebody and out of the blue, someone comes around their emergency vehicles and actually strikes them.”

Sweat said one of the firefighters was released from the hospital Sunday, but the other is still there.

“They have to have surgery for the injuries,” she said. “They don’t appear to be life-threatening, so that’s the good news. It was an extremely close call this morning.”

When first responders are involved in a crash, Sweat explained, it slows down response times and means other emergency crews must head to that accident in addition to the ones they are already dealing with.

“Every year, year over year, we are responding to more accidents,” Sweat said. Almost 15,000 accident scenes we responded to last year- that’s 40 a day. It takes up a lot of our valuable resources when we could be doing other things.”