Grand Rapids, MI (WZZM) – Grand Rapids Battalion Chief Bart Perry says removing the driver from a semi-truck that overturned on I-196 Thursday morning was the most difficult extrication in his 30 years at the fire department.
“It was a 3 ½ hour extraction,” he says. “I’ve never had anything like that in my entire career.”
The semi overturned at about 6:45 a.m. trying to exit the Interstate at Ottawa Avenue.
Battalion Chief Perry says it took 29 firefighters using every tool on the truck to finally cut the driver out.
He says they had to overcome many challenges.
“The vehicle rolled over onto the driver’s side, which impaired our access,” he explains. “We also had flammable liquids and oil spilling from the vehicle. We didn’t have access to the batteries so at any minute the air bags could deploy causing more harm. And we had traffic trying to get around us. It was a stressful scene.”
“Fortunately, he wasn’t in serious or critical condition,” he points out. “It gave us the luxury of time to slowly dismantle this vehicle.”
The truck driver was conscious during most of the rescue, but the chief says he started to fade at the end. He is expected to recover from his injuries.
“It was a very dynamic scene with a successful outcome all the way around,” says Chief Perry. “We operated in harm’s way so we could save that man’s life.”
After the driver was out it took several more hours to remove the wrecked truck loaded with peat moss and get traffic moving normally.