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Trucker trapped in burning rig “scooped up” by fellow driver who likely saved his life


A trucker’s life was saved by a driver involved in the same multi-vehicle accident that set the rig on fire, police say. 

The accident happened on Sunday, August 30th in Walcott, Iowa on Interstate 80 eastbound. 

According to police, a five-vehicle crash involving a semi truck caused the rig to catch fire, trapping the truck driver inside until a fellow driver decided to take the rescue into his own hands. 

“(I) approached the truck, yelled out to see if I was going to get a response because to be perfectly honest, from what I was seeing I didn’t think that he would be alive,” said trucker Robert Smith, who was also involved in the accident that sparked the fire. 

“He responded immediately, I could hear his voice and I don’t remember his exact words but it’s clear that he couldn’t get out of the truck at the time.”

Smith says he first tried to kick the window in, but soon had to resort to bashing it open with a metal rod. 

“I asked the driver if he could move, he said he could, and I said basically you need to get out now or you’re going to die and he came crawling out the window, I scooped him up off the ground and away from the truck we went,” said Smith to TV 6 News.

TV 6 News reports that the unnamed truck driver was transported to a nearby hospital with ‘non-life-threatening injuries.’ No updates on his condition or identity have been released. 

After the fiery crash, Smith’s daughter Julia uploaded footage of her father’s rescue-efforts to Facebook, where it quickly gained traction and has since garnered more than 150,000 views. 

“It was a really cool video I thought dad looked pretty heroic in it he’s pretty humble about it,” said Julia Smith.

“We weren’t surprised when we heard dad had pulled him out of the vehicle just because of his background, we knew that he’s always been the one to maintain a cool, calm, collected presence while the rest of us were in total freakout mode. He was definitely the right person in the right place at the right time,” she added.

Smith, now a truck driver, previously spent decades in law enforcement, making him uniquely suited to participate in a rescue like this. 

“A bunch of people have called me a hero and I guess, there’s heroes out there but I don’t necessarily feel it. I feel I did what needed to be done and I don’t know if that makes me a hero,” said Robert.

Yesterday, my dad’s semi was rear-ended by another while he was working. Following the initial shock from the impact, he got out of his rig, called first responders, and managed to break the driver’s window and pull him out with less than five seconds to spare before the cab was fully engulfed. Without his quick response and action, the driver would’ve died in the blaze. GREAT JOB, Robert J Smith!

Posted by Julia Smith on Monday, August 31, 2020

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