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Ordinary people became unexpected heroes when an 18-wheeler and pickup truck collided at the intersection of 61 South and Pemberton on Saturday morning.
A fiery crash
Two eyewitnesses said the 18-wheeler ran the light and others say the pickup ran the light. Regardless, there was a collision that trapped a man inside the pickup after causing significant damage to the front of that truck. A fire ignited in the engine compartment and the man in the truck was stuck between the seat and the dash of the smashed vehicle.
The Vicksburg Daily News reported on the quick actions of McKinley Skipper and Anna Cole, both of whom are trained as first responders, who happened to be nearby when the crash occurred. According to other eyewitnesses, a lot of people got involved in saving the life of the pickup truck driver.
Witnesses spring into action
The fire that started in the engine compartment put out a lot of smoke. That smoke started filling up the passenger compartment of the truck, cutting off the air supply for the trapped driver. Several citizens ran across the highway from a gas station and busted out the back window of the pickup truck, allowing air to enter the passenger compartment.
With the engine fire still raging, Bert Carraway says, “I witnessed all kinds of people leave their vehicles and run toward the Tacoma while it was in flames to assist a stranger in need. The men from the oil change place on Pemberton RAN to the highway with fire extinguishers and extinguished the fire.”
“Myself and a man I’ve never met reached in and attempted to open a door for the off duty medic to access the man inside the Tacoma; someone else I did not see got a door open on the other side and the medic was able to start rendering aid. Others did what they could and called 911.”
Cole was in the cab of the vehicle holding up the head of the driver until paramedics could get him out of the vehicle. Skipper was assisting Cole and directing resources until Battalion 1 arrived on the scene.
It is impossible to know what might have happened if the engine fire continued to burn a few more crucial moments until responders arrived. If these ordinary folks had made different decisions Saturday morning that put them somewhere other than the scene of this crash, or a dozen other ‘what-ifs’.
What we do know is what happened: everyone came away from this accident with their life. According to those who were present, the outcome is thanks, in part, to a group of strangers who did their best and exemplified the best thing about Vicksburg – our community.
“It was great that so many people did not think twice to run toward an initially fairly dangerous situation to help another person in need,” Carraway concluded.
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