Doctors determined that a Lake Travis firefighter likely blacked out and crashed while driving a firetruck Wednesday in a rare circumstance in which people to pass out due to stress, officials with the Lake Travis Fire Fighters Association said Saturday.
“All tests have come back clear, and doctors are telling us that this was an extremely rare case of a presumed vasovagal syncope which caused the incident,” the department wrote in a statement.
As a result, Lake Travis Fire Rescue engineer William Tatsch was released from the hospital Saturday. A vasovagal syncope is when a person faints because his or her body overreacts to certain triggers, such as the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress, according to MayoClinic.com. Vasovagal syncope is usually harmless and requires no treatment.
“Engineer Tatsch will continue to be off-duty while he receives care for his concussion,” the department wrote. “We wish him and all civilians a speedy recovery.”
The 17-year veteran of the department had been heading south on RM 620 north of Comanche Trail when he lost consciousness, fire officials have said. The truck veered into the northbound lanes of traffic, striking five vehicles in a fiery crash that shut down the highway late into the evening. Ten people were injured in the collision, including Tatsch and three other Lake Travis firefighters.
In addition to the four firefighters, six people were taken to area hospitals, including one driver who was flown by helicopter to Dell Seton Medical Center with serious injuries.
The three other firefighters who were injured were released from the hospital Wednesday night, fire officials said.
“Lake Travis firefighters continue to send our thoughts and best wishes to all the civilians who were involved in the incident on Wednesday,” the department said in a statement. “We have tried to reach out to area hospitals, but due to privacy concerns have not yet been able to speak with any (civilians) directly. We were told on Thursday that all patients were doing well and expected to be released or had been released.”