Ocoee police launch criminal investigation after report alleges firefighter fall coverup

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OCOEE, Fla. - Channel 9 obtained an investigative report that reveals an alleged coverup at the Ocoee Fire Department.

Investigators behind the report suggest the fire chief and a lieutenant should be fired.

The investigation was done by an independent contractor and began when a firefighter was injured during a training exercise in April.

Firefighter Craig Anderson was being held by webbing when he fell during a rappelling training exercise and had to be hospitalized.

WFTV learned Tuesday night the Ocoee Police Department has opened a criminal investigation.

An investigator called Chief Pete McNeil's story about the incident "ludicrous" and says he tried to cover details of the incident up with lies.

Anderson was hospitalized, but the department never conducted an investigation. The outside investigation began after Anderson filed a worker's compensation claim with the city.

When outside investigators looked into the incident, it showed the fall was related to operator error.

The investigator said he also learned Lt. Corey Bowles actually cut the rope after the fall to make it look like the rope snapped while Anderson was in the hospital.

Finally, the report states McNeil started fabricating the equipment failure story right after the fall to cover it all up.

The report requests a criminal investigation be conducted.

Ocoee Mayor Scott Vandergrift spoke with WFTV about the alleged coverup that could bring down his fire chief and a lieutenant.

Vandergrift said he didn't know about the incident until WFTV spoke with him.

He said he was most concerned because "somebody's life might be involved in it."