Team drivers rescue trucker trapped in burning truck

By Kimberely Lennard, Land Line staff writer | Tuesday, October 09, 2012

After a wreck in North Carolina, two truck drivers saved a trapped truck driver from his burning truck on the morning of Friday, Oct. 5.

Traffic on eastbound I-40 in Haywood County was backed up from a previous collision, when John Roberts of Columbus, MS, ran into the back of another tractor-trailer, according to Master Trooper Travis Crisp of the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

Photo courtesy of North Carolina State Highway Patrol

The driver of this tractor trailer suffered only minor injuries after an accident in North Carolina on Oct. 5.

Crisp said Roberts, who was driving 50 mph, didn’t realize traffic had stopped. The crash caused a chain reaction which involved two cars in addition to the other tractor-trailer.

Dennis Murillo and Deandre Hobby, team drivers for National Progressive Inc. in Fontana, CA, were in the truck hit by Roberts, whose trailer was fully loaded with dog food, according to Murillo.

Their truck was hit twice by Roberts. A woman in a Mini Cooper was in front of them, and Hobby told Land Line they looked to see if she was all right. Then they went to Roberts’ truck and saw it was smoking. Three or four people were trying to get him out before the truck caught fire.

Murillo and Hobby had to push the Mini Cooper to release it from their truck.

“The fire was getting big, and fuel was everywhere,” Hobby said.  

Murillo got in the truck to attempt to release it from Roberts’ truck.

“Everybody else was running. We could have got blown up. We used all the fluids in our fire extinguishers,” Hobby said. The fire started up again, and they told everyone to get back.

“His truck was under our truck. We had to pull our truck off of his while it was exploding,” Hobby said.

Another truck driver had a crow bar, which Murillo and Hobby used to pop Roberts’ door open. The impact of the crash blew the transmission apart, and there were gears laying 10 feet behind the truck, Murillo stated.

“It was mind-boggling, the devastation. I’ve never seen that in any accident.” Murillo had driven 4 million miles accident free, prior to the accident.

“We did what we hope anybody would do in our situation,” Hobby said.

Roberts’ truck and trailer were completely burned. Murillo and Hobby managed to save their load and deliver it to Charlotte before returning to California.

The drivers all suffered minor injuries. Roberts was cited for failure to reduce speed.

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