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Good Samaritans pull man from burning truck after crash shuts down Trans Canada near Springhill


SPRINGHILL, NS – People often wonder how they would react in a dangerous situation. Kenny Smith doesn’t have to wonder any more.

“I didn’t even think. When I saw the flames I said to buddy, the truck's on fire.’ Buddy said, ‘Yeah, we’ve got to get him out of there,’ and I said, ‘Yeah.’”

Smith was on his way to Amherst from his home in Oxford Thursday afternoon to watch his son Ryan play an Amherst Little League game.

At about 5:30 p.m. June 16, between Springhill and Amherst at the 23-kilometre marker on the Trans Canada Highway, a tractor-trailer hauling a large load of lumber on a flatbed trailer veered into the ditch directly in front of Smith.

“He was in the passing lane and it kind of seemed he fell asleep or something, because, all of a sudden, he jetted down into the ditch and he came up on the other side,” said Smith. “He kind of went airborne a little bit and he flipped when he came out the other side.”

The truck and trailer landed upside down and skidded to a crumpled stop in the eastbound lane with the load of 2x4’s scattered across the ditch and highway.

“It’s something you might see on TV but it’s not something you think you’d ever see in person,” said Smith. “Then all of a sudden I saw the truck go into the ditch and go up. I was like, ‘Holy.’”

Smith pulled over in the westbound lane and a man driving in a vehicle behind him stopped as well. That man has since been identified as Stephen Arsenault from Oxford.

“We both stopped and jumped out and went over,” said Smith.

“As I was getting closer I could see flames underneath the tractor,” he added. “I don’t know if it was spilled oil or what, but it was on fire for a few minutes.”

Arsenault got to the truck first. They quickly decided they had to get him out of the truck, and Arsenault grabbed a 2x4 and smashed out the window.

The truck driver was unconscious.

“He wasn’t moving at first, that was the scary part,” said Smith.

They yelled at the driver, but weren’t getting a response.

“The other guy grabbed one side and hauled him out a bit, and then buddy started to come to a bit, so we dragged him out,” said Smith. “By that time another two guys had come over and they helped us carry him away from the truck.”

By the time the rescuers got the driver removed a safe distance from the truck, he had regained consciousness but was bleeding from the head and mouth and was in a state of shock.

“He didn’t know what was going on,” said Smith. “He was in such shock he couldn’t get any words out. He was doing a lot of groaning and stuff.”

They tried to get the driver to sit down, but he kept trying to get up.

“He stood up and almost fell down. We tried to get him to sit on the railing and he almost fell over the back of the railing,” said Smith. “We also tried to get him to lay down but he wouldn’t.”

By this time the fire had died out.

“It might have been some oil. The drive shaft had popped out and that’s seems to be where the flames were coming from,” said Smith.

During the rescue, Smith could hear somebody call an ambulance, but the RCMP were the first on the scene.

“There was an off-duty RCMP officer who came over and he took over the situation until the cops got there.”

Asked if he believes what he did was heroic in any way, Smith says, “No. My first thought was, ‘I have to stop and see if he’s OK.’”

Paramedics took the truck driver to the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre with what the RCMP say are unspecified injuries.

“For what happened, he came out of it pretty good,” said Smith.

He says the highway was busy at the time of the crash but isn’t sure how close the tractor-trailer came to hitting oncoming traffic in the eastbound lane.

“From my perspective all I saw was the truck. I didn’t see how close he was to cars on the other side of the road.”

Eastbound vehicles were re-routed down Highway 2 to Springhill where they got back on the Trans Canada Highway via the Highway 142 connector.

The eastbound Trans Canada Highway was closed for about five hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I didn’t even think. When I saw the flames I said to buddy, the truck's on fire.’ Buddy said, ‘Yeah, we’ve got to get him out of there,’ and I said, ‘Yeah.’”

Smith was on his way to Amherst from his home in Oxford Thursday afternoon to watch his son Ryan play an Amherst Little League game.

At about 5:30 p.m. June 16, between Springhill and Amherst at the 23-kilometre marker on the Trans Canada Highway, a tractor-trailer hauling a large load of lumber on a flatbed trailer veered into the ditch directly in front of Smith.

“He was in the passing lane and it kind of seemed he fell asleep or something, because, all of a sudden, he jetted down into the ditch and he came up on the other side,” said Smith. “He kind of went airborne a little bit and he flipped when he came out the other side.”

The truck and trailer landed upside down and skidded to a crumpled stop in the eastbound lane with the load of 2x4’s scattered across the ditch and highway.

“It’s something you might see on TV but it’s not something you think you’d ever see in person,” said Smith. “Then all of a sudden I saw the truck go into the ditch and go up. I was like, ‘Holy.’”

Smith pulled over in the westbound lane and a man driving in a vehicle behind him stopped as well. That man has since been identified as Stephen Arsenault from Oxford.

“We both stopped and jumped out and went over,” said Smith.

“As I was getting closer I could see flames underneath the tractor,” he added. “I don’t know if it was spilled oil or what, but it was on fire for a few minutes.”

Arsenault got to the truck first. They quickly decided they had to get him out of the truck, and Arsenault grabbed a 2x4 and smashed out the window.

The truck driver was unconscious.

“He wasn’t moving at first, that was the scary part,” said Smith.

They yelled at the driver, but weren’t getting a response.

“The other guy grabbed one side and hauled him out a bit, and then buddy started to come to a bit, so we dragged him out,” said Smith. “By that time another two guys had come over and they helped us carry him away from the truck.”

By the time the rescuers got the driver removed a safe distance from the truck, he had regained consciousness but was bleeding from the head and mouth and was in a state of shock.

“He didn’t know what was going on,” said Smith. “He was in such shock he couldn’t get any words out. He was doing a lot of groaning and stuff.”

They tried to get the driver to sit down, but he kept trying to get up.

“He stood up and almost fell down. We tried to get him to sit on the railing and he almost fell over the back of the railing,” said Smith. “We also tried to get him to lay down but he wouldn’t.”

By this time the fire had died out.

“It might have been some oil. The drive shaft had popped out and that’s seems to be where the flames were coming from,” said Smith.

During the rescue, Smith could hear somebody call an ambulance, but the RCMP were the first on the scene.

“There was an off-duty RCMP officer who came over and he took over the situation until the cops got there.”

Asked if he believes what he did was heroic in any way, Smith says, “No. My first thought was, ‘I have to stop and see if he’s OK.’”

Paramedics took the truck driver to the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre with what the RCMP say are unspecified injuries.

“For what happened, he came out of it pretty good,” said Smith.

He says the highway was busy at the time of the crash but isn’t sure how close the tractor-trailer came to hitting oncoming traffic in the eastbound lane.

“From my perspective all I saw was the truck. I didn’t see how close he was to cars on the other side of the road.”

Eastbound vehicles were re-routed down Highway 2 to Springhill where they got back on the Trans Canada Highway via the Highway 142 connector.

The eastbound Trans Canada Highway was closed for about five hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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