While Others Stared At Wreck, Tow Truck Driver Saved Lives
Jul. 27, 1995
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ With survivors trapped in the freshly mangled metal and billowing smoke of a deadly turnpike crash, other motorists waited for it to explode. Tow truck driver Glenn Smith saved lives.
``Everybody was standing back, because they figured it was going to blow,'' Smith said. ``They said. `There's people in there! There's people in there!'''
``Well, I said, `Get `em out!'''
Tuesday's accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike killed a baby girl on impact when the van she was in slammed into a runaway tractor-trailer. The child's parents, her brother and sister were pinned inside the wreckage, the doors of the van jammed shut.
Smith acted quickly, connecting a chain from his tow truck to the wrecked van and pulling it out just before the trailer-trailer exploded in a fireball.
``Flames were everywhere,'' Smith said. ``As I was backing up, it just kept coming after us.''
When the smoke finally cleared, troopers credited Smith with saving four lives.
Although 14-month-old Casia Denise Lemons died, her father, Lyle Lemons, 30, of Oklahoma City; his wife, Debra, 35; and their 8-year-old son, Brandon, were admitted to the hospital in fair condition. The other child, Alicia, 5, was not injured.
``A miracle,'' said Trooper Joseph D. Ruggeri. ``It probably would have been a whole lot worse if he wasn't around.''
Authorities said the accident began when a tractor-trailer traveling west with a load of bananas flipped over a guardrail into the oncoming lanes. The van and a car ran into the trailer.
The driver of the car was not seriously hurt and managed to escape on his own. The tractor-trailer driver also managed to get out of the wreckage before the explosion. He suffered minor injuries and was hospitalized in good condition.