BRUCEVILLE-EDDY (July 15, 2014) A Waco police officer who was driving to work early Tuesday pulled an unconscious driver from the cab of a burning 18-wheeler after a fiery crash on Interstate 35 that backed up traffic for hours, Bruceville-Eddy police Cpl. William Stogner said.
The officer, a 10-year Waco Police Department veteran, wasn’t identified.
"He was very humble about it,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.
The officer witnessed the accident, stopped, jumped out of his car and ran to help, Swanton said.
He saw the driver from the first truck fall from the cab and onto the ground, checked on him and determined he was OK, Swanton said, and then saw smoke coming from the second truck.
The officer tried unsuccessfully to open the truck’s passenger door and realized the truck was beginning to burn.
Another driver who pulled up tried to use a small extinguisher to put out the flames, but was unsuccessful, Swanton said.
The officer,meanwhile, ran to the other side of the truck and was able to get the driver’s side door open, Swanton said.
He unbuckled the unconscious driver and pulled him from the cab, Swanton said.
As he pulled the driver away from the truck, the officer heard several explosions and within seconds the cab was engulfed in flames, Swanton said.
The officer stayed with the injured driver until paramedics arrived and then headed to work, Swanton said.
Swanton said the officer told him, "I knew I had to get him out of that truck."
"My training took over and I just did what I had to do."
The 18-wheeler burst into flames after it struck the rear of another big rig on the highway at around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday in a construction zone on the northbound interstate in Bruceville-Eddy.
Firefighters from Bruceville-Eddy and Moody fought the flames, which virtually consumed the rig.
Both drivers were taken to an area hospital, but neither had life-threatening injuries, police said.
It took hours to clear the wreckage from the accident scene and to clean up debris and spilled fuel.
Northbound traffic was backed up to Temple at one point as officers diverted motorists onto State Highway 107 and to U.S. Highway 77 until the highway was reopened.
(Randy Davis also contributed to this story)