OAKLAND -- The condition of a veteran Oakland firefighter badly injured Tuesday when an aircraft rescue rig overturned at Oakland International Airport has improved, with officials saying Wednesday he is awake and breathing on his own.

Mitchell Ow, 55, a 28-year fire department veteran, remained at Highland Hospital where his family, fellow firefighters and others were keeping a round-the-clock vigil.

Ow was injured about 11:45 a.m. Tuesday during a red-alert drill. He was by himself, driving a rescue rig equipped to carry 3,000 gallons of water and 420 gallons of foam, when it tipped on its side while making a turn in front of the Oakland Maintenance Center, formerly the United Airlines hangar.

He was not thrown from the vehicle but was rendered unconscious. He was in critical condition when he arrived at the hospital.

Ow was assigned to Station 22 at the airport. Airport operations were not impacted by the incident, officials said.

The cause of the accident is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol and Cal/OSHA.



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