Man trapped in 12-inch space in cab
by The Press and Standard | August 8, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: August 7, 2019 at 1:01 pm
As the cab of his tractor-trailer rig was being crushed, a North Carolina truck driver found himself wedged into a small v-shaped space that saved his life.
It was 2:50 a.m. on Aug. 1 when the county’s dispatch center began receiving reports of a southbound tractor-trailer leaving the roadway and striking several trees near I-95’s near the 47-mile marker.
The 2019 Kenworth left the roadway at a high rate of speed, crossed a ditch and then entered the woods, where it stuck multiple trees before hitting two large pine trees head-on.
The cab was crushed and displaced. The trailer came apart as nearly the entire load of 50-pound boxes of frozen beef trim were propelled forward, pushing the rear of the sleeper into the trees.
The driver was trapped in a 12-inch wide v-shaped area located between the dash and the rear of the sleeper. The dash had been pushed down onto his legs and his feet were trapped between the floor and the bottom of the dash.
The first unit to arrive found the mangled vehicle off in the woods on the right shoulder. They could hear the driver under the debris, but could not see him. The man suffered from multiple traumatic injuries and a head injury.
Several truck drivers stopped at the crash site to assist and were throwing the 50-pound boxes off of the cab.
Initially the driver, apparently disoriented, stated there were three people in the vehicle with him.
Additional ambulances and two medical helicopters were requested. C.A.R.E. Flight flew to the southbound rest area where Fire-Rescue units established a landing zone so they would not block the interstate during the extended extrication.
Crews deployed two sets hydraulic rescue tools and multiple hand tools, including reciprocating saws and pneumatic tools.
A chain saw was used to cut a path to the passenger side of the vehicle and a ground ladder was used to access the driver’s side.
The entire truck was covered with grease from the beef trim in the boxes, making for some stability problems as rescuers worked to free the man.
Two separate crews worked independently on the rear of the cab and the passenger side in attempts to gain access to the man. The driver’s side was crushed into one of the pine trees and was inaccessible.
The man’s dog received non-life threatening injuries and was freed early in the incident. Colleton County Animal Control responded to the scene to transport the canine.
After approximately 25 minutes, firefighter-paramedics were able to gain access to the patient’s head and one arm. An IV was established so fluids and pain medications could be administered.
The man provided a telephone number for a family member, who was contacted and verified the driver, was alone and the others he stated were in the truck were accounted for and not in the truck.
Crews continued the tedious extrication, removing small portions of the truck using a variety of tools to tunnel into the patient.
After two and one-half hours of slow progress, the man was freed through the rear wall of the sleeper, immobilized and moved to an ambulance.
He was transported to the southbound rest area to meet with C.A.R.E. Flight to be flown to the Trauma Center at MUSC in Charleston.
Traffic on southbound I-95 was down to one lane for three hours. Fire-Rescue units were on the scene for three-and-a-half hours. Recovery crews worked most of the day clearing the vehicle and debris the wooded area.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol and State Transport Police investigated the accident.
The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the helicopter’s landing zone and with traffic control at the accident site.