SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Spring Hill man is alive after a head-on collision with a dump truck.
Emergency responders say the man would have perished in the fiery wreck if not for motorists who stopped to help.
It happened Tuesday morning on Cleburne Road in Spring Hill.
That’s where a Chevy Tahoe hit a dump truck head-on and burst into flames.
An unidentified motorist called 911 and reported the accident.
On the call, you can hear the man talking to the victim still trapped in the SUV.
“Sir we gotta get you out of the car. It’s catching on fire.”
According to emergency responders, the 44-year-old driver was trapped, bleeding, and unconscious, as his vehicle burst into flames.
With emergency responders still minutes away, a Spring Hill Public Works employee, Chris Crumley, a motorist, and a couple of dump truck drivers sprang into action.
Spring Hill Police Chief Don Brite says “Definitely, in my opinion, it saved his life. Instead of looking around and trying to figure out what to do, they took action, and I agree saved his life.”
The men tried to open the driver door, but it was wedged shut because of the accident. What did they do? They used a logging chain, tied it to the SUV’s door, and then, using one of the dump trucks, ripped the door right off the SUV.
With the door off, the men reached in and pulled the man to safety, laying him on the road behind the Public Works Department truck to shield the group from a possible explosion.
Chief Terry Hood of the Spring Hill Fire Department was one of the 1st emergency responders on the scene.
“They tried several times to manually pull the doors open and realized they could not open it because the impact forced the door shut. So they backed the dump truck up, the biggest truck there, and hooked a logging chain to the post and snatched the door off the hinges. That’s smart thinking and quick. From what I am told, one man was putting blankets over the fire to keep the fire off the driver, while the rest were working to get him out. So everyone was doing something to save the man’s life.”
As he was responding to the scene, Chief Hood says he feared the worst.
Hood says “We were told MVA, entrapment, patient unconscious, vehicle on fire. And as we approached, you could see the smoke, and you knew the vehicle was on fire. And in my brain I’m thinking, if he is trapped, it is not going to be good.”
Within minutes, fire crews extinguished the blaze and a life flight helicopter raced the driver to the hospital.
Hood says there is no doubt that regular joe citizens saved a man’s life.
The patient is at Vanderbilt Medical Center where he is in stable but critical conditional.
THP is investigating the crash. A preliminary report shows the driver, now named as James Checchia Jr. drove off the left side of the road, overcorrected, and struck the dump truck head-on.
The investigation is still ongoing.