Oakland Firefighter Critically Injured During Airport Training Exercise Now Breathing on His Own

A veteran Oakland firefighter critically injured when the rig he was driving overturned during a training exercise is now breathing on his own, officials said Wednesday.

Mitchell Ow, 55, is recovering at Highland Hospital in Oakland, where many firefighters from the department continue to visit and show support for their colleague.

"It could have been a lot worse," Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief Coy Justice said. "Out of the 500 members you can't find anybody to say anything negative about Mitch Ow."

Ow, a 28-year veteran of the department, was critically hurt Tuesday during a monthly training operation at the Oakland airport.

"When I saw him yesterday he was intubated, and now they've taken out the breathing tube and that's always the best sign," Justice said. "And now he's resting."

Ow's family declined to comment on Wednesday.

The firefighters' union tells NBC Bay Area it plans to assist Ow's wife and sister while he recovers.

Meanwhile, Cal/OSHA and the California Highway Patrol have taken over the investigation into what happened to cause the rig Ow was driving to overturn.

"We will be doing a very thorough investigation to determine exactly what happened," said Erika Monterroza, Cal/OSHA spokesperson. "And also to assess whether there were violations of California Safety and Health regulations."

The investigation could take up to six months, officials said.

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