Responding Wisconsin Tanker Rollover – Seatbelts Used

Courtesy of

One Firefighter remains in the hospital in good condition this morning after an Orfordville tanker truck rolled Monday about 5 miles west of Beloit on the way to a fire. The passenger in the apparatus, FF Chad Cleasby, 31, Orfordville, was in good condition at Rockford Memorial Hospital. The driver, FF Michael Ponkauskas, 54, Orfordville, was treated and released today at Beloit Memorial Hospital.

According to the Rock County Sheriff’s Department:

The firefighters were dispatched at 1:30 p.m. to 8314 W. St. Lawrence Road for a vehicle on fire in a shed. Responding units were southbound on County H just south of West Mill Pond Road where the road makes an 80-degree turn to the right. An engine and ambulance went through the curve, but the driver of the tanker full of water lost control and rolled over in front of 8606 W. County H.

People in nearby Mill Pond Park heard and saw the crash, called 911 and helped the two injured firefighters, who had been wearing seatbelts. Cleasby had freed himself from the cab by the time authorities arrived and was flown to the Rockford hospital. Ponkauskas remained trapped until extrication equipment arrived.

The Wisconsin State Patrol inspected the tanker and determined the brake system was in proper working order.

Preliminary investigation indicates the tanker entered the curve too fast, drifted onto the soft gravel shoulder in the opposite lane and rolled down an embankment, coming to rest against a tree.

Citations, if appropriate, will be issued at the end of the investigation.

The fire that the firemen were responding to resulted in a total loss of a pole shed, said Beth Wilkie of Orfordville EMS. Cause of the fire is unknown, but it started in a vehicle outside of the shed, she said.

One Town of Beloit fire fighter was transported to Beloit Memorial Hospital from injuries suffered on the scene. No information about that firefighter was available by press time.