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‘Don’t do it,’ Indianapolis FD warns against copycats after video shows a woman riding the tailboard

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Lydia Gerike

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis Fire Department is warning people not to follow the dangerous lead of a woman who hitched a ride on the back of a fire truck Tuesday.

A motorist driving behind the truck took a video of the incident, which IFD posted Wednesday to social media. The woman can be seen in the video standing on the truck’s rear bumper ledge and holding onto the side with one arm.

IFD spokesperson Rita Reith said the department chose to post the video to emphasize that riding on the back of a fire truck is both illegal and dangerous.

“I know people are undoubtedly finding the humor in it, but our intent is to say there’s nothing funny,” Reith said. “We’re not looking for copycats.”

The IFD firefighters had just finished a call in the industrial park at 2900 N. Shadeland Ave. and were headed to refuel the truck. Crew members believe the woman climbed aboard while they were stopped at a red light at Pendleton Pike and Shadeland Avenue.

They were unaware of the woman’s presence until being were alerted by another driver and believe she was on the truck for about four or five blocks. Reith said the woman told the crew members she jumped onto the truck because she needed a ride.

Although the crew members just asked the woman to get off, her actions were illegal and could have resulted in a fine or arrest, Reith said.

Riding on the outside of a fire truck is unsafe, Reith said, and even firefighters don’t do it.

Large, heavy fire trucks are more difficult to stop or turn than normal vehicles, Reith said. The woman could have unexpectedly fallen and been struck by a vehicle traveling behind the fire truck.

If the crew had been sent out on another call, the sudden acceleration as they sped to such a call could’ve thrown the woman off the back.

No matter what happened, it’s likely the crew would have kept going and been completely unaware of whether the woman was left injured, Reith said.

As far as Reith knows, the department has never seen an incident like this.

“And hopefully we’ll never see it again,” Reith said.

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