TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. (WFLA) – A Palm Harbor firefighter and paramedic received a hero’s welcome at a community fundraiser Saturday after she was nearly killed on the job just a few weeks ago.
Lt. Ashley White, 38, was hit by a speeding pickup truck while responding to a crash in September in Palm Harbor, authorities said.
“It’s a miracle, honestly, seeing the damage to our apparatus that was done and knowing that he was driving at a high rate of speed,” she said Saturday at a fundraiser organized for her at the Tarpon Springs Elks Lodge 1719.
The driver of the pickup died.
Lt. White sustained several injuries to her legs and arms.
”Pretty amazing seeing my crew members working on one of their own and knowing what was going on,” she said.
One of those crew members was Lt. Steve Gorby.
“As we approached, we saw one of our firefighters was down, which was something, in 22 years, I’ve never seen,” he said.
Lt. Gorby called Lt. White a hard worker and team player whose first priority is always safety.
“That was the first thing she said to me in the hospital when we got there was, ‘Can you believe it? Me of all people, I got hit by a car.’ But it could happen to any one of us any day,” he said.
Lt. White underwent two surgeries and spent six days in the hospital before going home to her husband and young daughter.
She said her surgeons are happy with her progress.
The Tarpon Springs Elks Lodge held a raffle fundraiser Saturday to help her family pay for the medical bills.
“She’s very lucky to be alive. Even the fire department said that, she’s very lucky to be where she is. We figured anything we could do, and that’s what we do at the Elks, we help people,” said Nancy Gorby, the chaplain at the Tarpon Springs Elks Lodge 1719.
“It’s just tragic. I’m just really glad that she is still here. It sounds like it was a miracle so we’re really happy that she’s still with us,” said Cassie Hull, the president and exalted ruler at the Tarpon Springs Elks Lodge 1719.
Lt. White hopes to return to work at Palm Harbor Fire Rescue if her recovery allows it.
She reminds drivers to pay attention behind the wheel.
“If you see lights, you need to slow down and move over,” she said.
North Pinellas Firefighters Charities have set up an online fundraiser for Lt. White and her family to help with recovery. Lt. White’s husband is a lieutenant with Clearwater Fire Rescue.
Palm Harbor Fire Rescue is also accepting donations in person at their headquarters, Station 65, located at 250 West Lake Road in Palm Harbor.