BULLOCK COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - 4:30 in the morning on June 26. Highway 110 on the outskirts of Union Springs. The driver of an 18-wheeler, hauling 45,000 pounds of peanuts, lost control, tore down a few trees and turned over. He was ejected and part of what was left of the cab landed right on top of him.
“We tried to raise the truck a little bit but it was crumbling. We got our airbags and got it under the motor," said Fitzpatrick Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Henry Barnett.
“We were afraid that, you know, it was going to be a recovery instead of an extrication," said Union Springs Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Seale Cameron.
The entire rescue operation took around 20 minutes. They got him out in time despite an oil leak within two yards of his head and a shaky load.
‘"The engine right in there and see his head.. that’s all we could see," said Barnett.
Heroics on a busy highway before sunrise; all the more reason why the Bullock County Fire and Rescue will publicly honor all 12 volunteer firefighters from the two departments next month.
’"A very tough extrication. Our tools were pushed to the limits," said Union Springs Volunteer Asst. Fire Chief Rob Cameron.
Even today, more than two months after the fact, the ditch where the crash happened is littered with thousands of peanuts, a reminder of not only what happened but how close it was for the truck driver.
“If he’d been a foot or so to the left, he would have been crushed," said Barnett.
We’re told the driver suffered broken bones but is on the mend and in rehab in West Memphis, Arkansas, doing well thanks to some brave first responders on a dark highway.
The awards ceremony will be Sept. 12 at the Bullock County Courthouse in Union Springs at 6 p.m. The ceremony will take place in the commissioner’s chambers.
WSFA 12 News reached out to the driver who was injured but we were not successful in reaching him by phone.
The firefighters say both departments could not only use additional volunteers but financial donations as well.