Motorists Rescue Truck Driver Dangling Over Bridgeby Jana Ritter - Published: 4/08/2016
It often seems there is a rivalry between truck drivers and motorists, but this week proved yet again that it isn't always the case when a fellow human life is at stake. On Wednesday, a three-vehicle crash in St. Charles County, MO left a truck driver's life hanging over a bridge until three motorists banned together and pulled him to safety.
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The accident occurred on Highway 370 just west of the Discovery Bridge at about 12:20 pm Wednesday. Truck driver, Michael R. Coleman, was simply doing his job and driving eastbound in a Hogan Company tractor-trailer carrying liquid soap. According to police, a motorist driving a Pontiac GC was also heading east and attempted to change lanes when the rain-slicked road caused the driver to lose control. The Pontiac swerved and hit a Ford Fusion just as Coleman’s tractor-trailer was approaching from behind. The truck driver's immediate reaction was to brake hard and avoid hitting the two vehicles, but the sudden action instead caused him to swerve and strike both cars. The motion then caused the big rig to overturn onto its driver side and then slide off the right lane, leaving the cab dangling over the highway bridge overpass.
Nick Hargis of Troy, MO saw everything happen in front of him and his immediate reaction was to pull over and save the truck driver. Two other motorists had the same instinct and the three men gathered at the crash site first calling to the truck driver to make sure he was all right. "He wasn't hurt. I told him just to sit there," Hargis says. They devised a plan to pull Coleman up from the wreckage using tow straps that Hargis happened to have in his truck. Coleman began the daredevil attempt of climbing out of his dangling cab and onto the top. He then fastened one of the tow straps around his chest and the three men pulled him to safety.
"When he got up to the ground, he was like, 'Thank God I'm alive, thank you for helping, me, I thought I was going to die.’ We stayed there until the firefighters and everybody got there," Hargis continues. Miraculously, the truck driver escaped the incident unharmed and the two motorists in the initial accident (Maurice A. Hines, 34, of St. Louis, and Delbert R. Traub, 62, of Eldridge, Iowa) were taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries. The eastbound lanes of Highway 370 were shut down for about three hours as rescue crews worked to upright the tractor-trailer and pull the cab up from the edge of the bridge.The Missouri Highway Patrol says none of the soap leaked but a small amount of diesel fuel had leaked from the truck's fuel tank.