LMPD sergeant and JCPS teacher save man's life in fiery I-65 crash
The sergeant had been driving behind the semi on I-65 south at the time of the crash. The JCPS teacher was driving on I-65 North, pulled over and ran over to help.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An LMPD sergeant and JCPS teacher ran into harm’s way to save another man’s life following a fiery crash on I-65 South at Hospital Curve on Tuesday night.
With the odds stacked against them, LMPD Sgt. Omar Lee and Southern High School automotive repair teacher James Wyatt instantly began working as a team.
The semi ran into a median wall, tipped on its side, started skidding and caught fire. Lee had been driving behind the semi. Wyatt was driving on I-65 North, pulled over and ran over to help.
"One door is trapped by the concrete, obviously, because it's on its side," Lee said. The other is so high up we couldn’t get to it."
“We were able to use (Lee’s) radio and broke the window, and I was able to pull the glass out," Wyatt said. "And then when we pulled the glass out, the driver was sitting there in the floor."
“We were able to reach in and grab (the semi driver) and pull him out, and by this time, the truck is fully engulfed,” Lee said.
“One of those surreal moments in life," Wyatt said. "He rolled over and looked at me and said, 'I thought I was going to die in there.'”
It was later discovered the driver, 59-year-old Brad Vandeventer, was driving under the influence. Police said a breathalyzer showed his blood alcohol level was .06. The legal limit for a commercial truck driver is .04.
“While speaking with the operator, the officer could smell odor of alcoholic beverage coming from his breath,” Judge Sean Delahanty said.
During the rescue, there were moments of uncertainty as the fire smoke began to build.
“The smoke was almost overpowering,” Lee said.
“I remember telling (Lee) we're OK,' Wyatt said. "It’s not going to explode. It's diesel fuel. And I think that reassured him enough that we could finish getting (the semi driver) out of the truck."
Before teaching automotive repair classes to high school students, Wyatt received his formal training in heavy trucks and training, allowing him to keep his cool during the rescue.
“I get paid to go into harm’s way, and he did it just as a citizen driving down the road and saw that someone needed help and made that decision to jump the wall and help,” Lee said.
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