Accident Closes Freeway For Hours; Solider Aids Trapped Driver - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/5/2007-Smith Co.

Accident Closes Freeway For Hours; Solider Aids Trapped Driver

East-bound traffic remains closed tonight on part of I-20, after a massive effort to rescue a trapped truck driver. The man's 18-wheeler hit a sign and overturned late Wednesday morning on Highway 155. A diesel spill sparked a fire on the interstate, with the truck driver trapped in his rig the whole time. KLTV 7 was on the scene, where crews and even an Iraq veteran just driving by, rushed to save him.

"We had a number of firemen and paramedics inside the truck dozens of volunteers,

Multiple departments, and 3 sets of jaws of life, all to pry 57-year old Michael Fernandez out of this 18-wheeler.

"We had diesel leaking all over the place so we couldn't use the saw because we didn't want to start a fire," said Richard Crumpton, Captain Jackson Heights Volunteer Fire Department, "When we first got here we cut the passenger side seat out. Cut that out. Then actually got in there to get to him. Once we started cutting on the steering wheel it wasn't doing any good really so then we hooked up chains to a spreader."

They eventually pulled steering wheel out of way nearly three hours after the accident one of the first on the scene.

US Army Sergeant Daniel Pilard just back from Iraq in August who happened to be driving down the road.

"Went off to the side of the road, got out, and jumped in the truck. I started talking to Mike the whole time to keep him motivated, keep him alive," said Pilard, "If not me who? someone had to do it."

A team effort by Daniel and all the volunteer fire department.

"When we have incidents like this there is never too many firemen and paramedics to assist. You wear out pretty quick," said Charles Wilson, Chief Red Springs Volunteer Fire Department, "Here in Smith County we kinda work together."

Fernandez was taken by helicopter to ETMC.

"He thanked us and we were able to get him out and everything and said sorry he caused us an inconvenience or anything. I said man its no problem. Just making sure you was alright," said Crumpton.

And now rescuers and strangers brought together in this accident breathe a sigh of relief that this accident was not much worse.

Fernandez is in good condition at a local hospital.

Danielle Capper, Reporting.


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