‘Lifesavers’ rescue trucker before tanker erupts in flames

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CASCO TOWNSHIP, MI (WOOD) — Three passersby are being credited with saving the life of a trucker who rolled his gasoline-filled tanker while exiting northbound I-196 Monday.

The crash happened around 3:15 a.m. on the exit 26 off-ramp to 109th Avenue/Pullman Road in Casco Township, north of South Haven.

Early indications are that the driver, who was hauling more than 8,000 gallons of fuel, took the ramp too fast, lost control and rolled off the side of the road, fire officials said.

The driver ended up on the ground just outside the cab of the truck until three good Samaritans stopped and pulled him safely away from the wreckage.

“They truly saved his life today,” South Haven Area Emergency Services Chief Ron Wise told 24 Hour News 8. “It’s a true blessing for this gentleman not to have perished in the fire.”

The trucker’s name was not immediately released. Wise said he was taken by ambulance to an area hospital for treatment of non life-threatening injuries.

Wise said firefighters would not likely have made it to the scene in time to rescue the driver. He says the people he called “life savers” are the reason the driver is still alive.

“When they turned and looked back, where he was laying was totally engulfed in flames,” Wise said. “These are truly three lifesavers that stopped by and made a difference in his life.”

The exit ramp from northbound I-196 to 109th Avenue/Pullman Road remained shut down Monday morning as firefighters let the fire burn itself out because of environmental concerns.  Smoke and flames could be seen coming from the truck until after 7 a.m. Monday.

As the sun rose, the damage was clear: barely a shell of the truck remained.

Allegan County Sheriff’s authorities are in charge of the investigation to pinpoint a cause of the crash.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was called in to assess the scene. Wise said they would collect soil samples to determine if contamination is an issue. He did not suspect air quality was a problem in the area.

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