Trapped in flattened car on I-787 in New York, US, man suffers just a scratch
A driver whose car was crushed when a tractor- trailer rolled onto it on I-787 in New York State, US, on Thursday, 26 September 2019, walked away with just a cut on his finger, authorities said. The man, who was pushed into the car's passenger seat from the impact, was talking to fire fighters as they cut away the flattened car and pulled him to safety. The accident occurred at 10h15 near the near the 23rd Street exit. "He was laughing. He was happy to be alive," Watervliet Fire Chief Thomas Garrett said. The weight of the tractor-trailer's 40 000-pound cargo of flour pancaked the car. Authorities said the driver was northbound on the highway and trying to pass the truck on the right. The car hit a guardrail, bounced off and then hit the tractor-trailer when it careened back into the road, authorities said.
The driver was thrown into the passenger's side of the vehicle which photographs show was slightly less compressed and the flattened driver's side. "This was a one of a kind. I couldn't believe the guy was still alive," Garrett said.
Fire fighters used airbags to partly lift the truck off the car so fire fighters could cut the wreckage away. Two fire fighters crawled under the wreck to cut apart the vehicle to yank the crash victim to safety. It took about 30 minutes to cut the man out, said Garrett. "He was talking to us the entire time."
By 10h45, the man was in a Watervliet Fire Department ambulance on his way to Samaritan Hospital in Troy. The State Police said, "The cause of the accident is still under investigation and no charges have been filed." They have not yet released the names of the two drivers.
Authorities at the scene said the driver of the tractor-trailer truck was not injured.
Later, they used the inflatable bag to lift the truck upright. As the vehicle came to rest on all of its tires, clouds of flour puffed out rips in the trailer.
All northbound lanes of I-787 were closed while authorities work at the scene. The heavily travelled road was closed for about four hours with it reopening to traffic shortly before 14h30.
Traffic was detoured off the northbound lanes at Exit 8 just before the highway crosses on a bridge over 23rd Street. Traffic then crossed 23rd Street to re-enter the interstate on the northbound entrance by passing the accident scene.
A witness, Adam Surprenant, said the car passed him shortly before he came upon the crash site. Surprenant said several drivers had stopped their vehicles and were running to help the drivers of the two vehicles.
The driver of the sports car flattened in a crash is reacting after learning he's facing a number of traffic tickets from state police. The crash that happened Thursday around 10h00 on I-787 northbound in Watervliet, resulted in a semi-truck falling onto Jelani Reyes-Craig's car but state police said the semi-truck driver was not at fault.
28-year-old Jelani Reyes-Craig faces a misdemeanour charge of reckless driving and citations including unsafe lane change and speeding. He was in the 2006 Nissan 350Z, that was left totally crushed. “The driver is ticketed based on evidence at the scene we felt the tickets were warranted but we are going to wait until finish our official investigation before we make determinations about who is at fault here,” said NYS Trooper Kerra Burns.
Reyes-Craig spoke to CBS 6’s Anne McCloy about the steps he took while pancaked under that semi-truck that saved his life before first responders got there and he's also responding to the charges against him.
Reyes-Craig said, “I was appalled. I don’t understand the tickets and I don’t know why I got them.” He's fighting the traffic tickets against him. Reyes-Craig has an attorney. He won't discuss what happened before this point as he was heading North on I-787. “I ended up hitting the truck, sliding into it actually,” he said. At first he didn’t realise the semi, carrying 45 000 pounds of flour, was falling onto his sports car.
“The only thing holding up the roof from decapitating me was the headrest of my seat. The roof started caving in on me and my first reaction was let me slide down in my seat and create some space.” He realised he was trapped in his seatbelt and may not have gotten out if not for having a knife on him. “I was jamming the red button while pulling to get the seatbelt out.”
As the semi began crushing the driver’s side, he made a life-saving move, to the passenger side of the car. “There was a small enough hole to get my head and my shoulders through to hop over to the passenger seat before hitting the guardrail.”
“The whole driver's side was just demolished. It’s only a two-seater, so if i would’ve stayed in that seat or if I had a passenger I would’ve been dead.”
But then a Reyes-Craig faced a new problem. “I was inhaling smoke and choking, I thought I was going to burn alive,” he said. That's when a first responder arrived, a tow truck driver. Reyes-Craig used the knife again, to break a window and call for help. Moments later, fire fighters would come to his rescue with rescue tools.
But fire fighters say it was nothing short of a miracle.
Fire fighters say Reyes-Craig literally came within inches of death, they say six inches of the semi landed on a guardrail creating that safe space inside Reyes-Craig's car. “I did as much as I could for myself in the car after that it was 100 percent the first responders,” he said.
Fire fighters were warned not to go under the semi to rescue Reyes-Craig but went against orders and risked their lives to get him out, a scary 30-45 minutes cutting him out of there.
He and his girlfriend Kaylea Chambers are incredibly grateful to the fire fighters who risked their lives to save his.
The 33-year-old semi-truck driver was not injured in the crash.
Source: Times Union