Motorist rescued trucker in “bad shape” from a wreck that was nearly invisible to passing traffic due to white-out conditions.
On Friday of last week, Tyler Mahoney was on Highway 40 in Wasatch County, Utah when bad winter conditions got worse.
“I’ve been in bad driving conditions before but nothing like this,” Mahoney said to KSL TV. “We came across dozens and dozens of people who had slid off of the side of the road because you just couldn’t see it.”
Mahoney eventually pulled into a parking lot at milepost 50 and the Soldier Creek turnoff, and that’s when he noticed something was wrong.
“I was ahead of my dad, who I was waiting for,” Mahoney explained. “You drive down into it maybe 20 yards and you can see a gulley that leads to the lake and down in that gulley was a huge tanker, a double-trailer tanker, with hazards flashing, tipped over on its side — which had obviously happened within the last little bit in the storm.”
Mahoney then decided to trek down there and check on the truck driver while he waited for his dad to unload the snowmobile he was hauling and meet up with him.
“To my surprise, there was a conscious man there standing up but he was obviously in bad shape,” Mahoney said of the accident. “He was standing up with his head outside of the driver’s window — because it was on its side.”
Mahoney says the man appeared to be covered in oil, and didn’t have enough strength to climb out of the truck.
“I just pulled the windshield out and then kicked it out to the point we could get him out the front of the truck through the windshield,” he said.
Mahoney then helped the driver walk through the gully to the embankment, but the driver was not in good enough shape to make the climb up the snowy and icy hill.
“He was obviously in shock, he was hypothermic, past the point of shivering and he was to the point where he said he just wanted to go to sleep. We got to the hill and once we got to the hill he could not go any further.”
That’s when Mahoney’s father arrived with the snowmobile, which he used to get the trucker up the hill and into a warm running vehicle.
“I just pushed on the gas full-throttle and just barely made it up onto the road where we could get back (to the parking lot). I think it was a blessing that we were able to find him. I don’t think anybody else would have found him. No one else was coming in and out of that parking lot that night. Nobody else was going to see him from the road — completely visible [sic] from the road.”
It took several ambulances and two hours to transport the trucker to a hospital due to the poor visibility and road conditions.
Once recovered, truck driver Kent Ashton explained what led up to his nearly-tragic wreck. He says that he was moving slowly along the roadway when another car slid towards him. When he moved to avoid the car, it sent him off the edge of the road, which caused the tanker to overturn and slide down the embankment into the gully.
“The crude tank actually busted open, and so it filled the bottom below the steering wheel, so it kind of singed my legs,” Ashton explained.
“Without you, I wouldn’t have made it,” Ashton said on a video call with Mahoney on Monday. “I probably would have frozen in the truck.”
“I was just glad that we found you, that you were OK for the time being and we were able to get you out of there,” Mahoney said.