It was a normal day on the job for me as I drove my transport truck on Highway #427. I was nearing Highway #401 when I saw a huge commotion. It was a sight I hope never to see again. A flipped over truck and trailer which had landed on the driver’s side. Scattered on the highway were parts of the truck and its cargo of thousands of small metal stampings spilled from their steel bins.
I brought my truck under control and pulled over to the left shoulder and dashed over to where the driver was trapped. I could see him jammed against the steering wheel. I yelled so he could hear me over the noise of the highway. “Try and stand and move over to the other side of the seat.” My heart was in my throat as I realized the danger of an explosion.
As I quickly checked the truck, knowing that every second counts in such a dire situation, my eyes fell upon a small gas tank vent afire about to explode.
“Stand back, it’s about to explode.” I yelled to the many bystanders who had gathered around the truck. The fear and terror in the eyes of my fellow driver drove me to forget myself and to do everything I could to save him. It seemed to me as if everything was done in slow motion like I was in a bad dream with no end in sight as I went to my truck and got a long iron bar. The fire had to be put out before it hit the main fuel tank or else the whole vehicle with the driver inside would go up in flames.
“Don’t leave me alone” he gasped as his frightened eyes followed my actions in trying to break the window to free him. I told him to cover his head with his jacket while I tried to smash the other window to get to him.
“I won’t leave you” I gasped as I tried to crack the window. It didn’t work. My mind raced as I tried to figure out what to do next. Inch by inch, I punched the iron bar through the edge of the windshield and pried it off along the rubber edging seal around the passenger side of the truck until I was able to reach in. On my stomach amidst broken glass I crawled in and disengaged him from the steering wheel. Dragging him as fast as I could out of the vehicle and over to the guard rail and it seemed he was weightless as my adrenaline fueled mind overruled motions and physics.
As he lay there, I could see in his face the agony which he had gone through. His physical danger was passed but the trauma would linger with him for the rest of his life. His terror state and shaking bewilderment prevented him from speaking but his eyes revealed a rebirth and gratitude while shocked. I felt he didn’t think a stranger would take charge and risk certain death to get him out of a truck that was built as strong as a bank vault. Bystanders intervened to console him as his tears of reality began to roll down his cheeks.
My truck was blocking two lanes and traffic was backed up. I had to move the truck but not before the bystanders told the police what I had done. As I was leaving the scene, I reported back to 911 that the driver was out of danger and the fire under control.
Another day in my transportation career – one I would never forget.