A 56-year-old truck driver has died from wounds suffered after a wreck and fire on Interstate 75 in Florida.
Keith Mahabirsingh, of Ocala, FL, died Wednesday, July 10, at a Gainesville, FL, hospital – reportedly three weeks after his truck blew a tire and smashed into a guard rail on I-75.
According to the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper, Mahabirsingh was headed south on I-75 toward the Oxford Church of God to deliver limestone rock June 20 when the wreck occurred. A tire on Mahabirsingh’s 2006 Peterbilt blew, causing the truck to slam into a guard rail and overturn onto the driver’s side.
As the truck burst into flames, the Star-Banner reported, motorists Kevin Alliss, Ray Johnson and Dale Graham stopped and helped Mahabirsingh escape from the truck – banging fire extinguishers on the windshield, pulling him from the wreckage and moving him several times as the fire exploded.
Other motorists stopped traffic at the scene and helped rescuers, including nurse Judy Servidio who spoke to Mahabirsingh’s wife as the driver fought for his life in the hospital. Servidio told the newspaper the driver had suffered lung infections and was trying to breathe on his own in the days before his death.
Mahabirsingh had undergone 5 and a half hours of skin graft surgery, and hospital staff had worked to remove soot from his lungs twice daily.
David Brady, owner of Brady Construction and Mahabirsingh’s employer, described the driver as ‘irreplaceable.’
“It’s shocking,” Brady told the Star-Banner. “Everything here thought greatly about him. He’s going to be greatly missed. He’s a fine person and a fine employee.”
Johnson and Graham have since purchased Res-Q-Me devices designed to help motorists cut seat belts or shatter windshields to help wreck victims, the two told the Star-Banner.
“I’m not going to second-guess myself, but it’s a learning experience and now I’ve got something that I can use the next time something like this happens,” Johnson told the newspaper. “Maybe if we got to him 60 seconds sooner we could have made a difference.”
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