Garbage truck driver jumps into action to help injured kids in Posey Co. crash
Driver, witnesses provide first aid to victims immediately following three-vehicle crash
NEW HARMONY, Ind. (WFIE) - On Thursday, a truck, a Jeep and a garbage truck were involved in a massive crash on State Road 66 at the Stierly Road intersection in New Harmony.
Christopher Gibson, the driver of the garbage truck, told 14 News that he saw the Jeep pull out and then get hit by a pickup truck. He didn’t have time to get out of their way.
“The next best choice was to hit the rear end or the engine compartment rather than the passenger compartment, so I did,” he explained. “It felt like minutes, everything really slowed down, but in all actuality, you’re talking about milliseconds.”
Mellody Arrieta, who lives at the intersection, said she heard the initial crash and came out just as the truck was knocking the other vehicles apart.
“He hit them and split them,” she said. “So the Jeep went into the ditch and the truck went towards the gas station. What I saw was the garbage truck heading towards my home.”
The truck was stopped in a ditch before it made it to her.
Gibson said he had twisted his back, he had some neck trauma, and bruising from the steering wheel and seat belt, but he composed himself.
“From there, I just went to work trying to figure out who was hurt, how bad they were hurt,” he said.
Arrieta checked on the man in the truck, then crossed the road.
“I went to the Jeep and saw those kids that are family, that I tutor, that I have at school,” she said, beginning to cry. “The boy was unconscious, I didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Christopher, the Larry Marshall Driver, he was with the boy.”
Gibson happens to be a volunteer firefighter with Prarie Township, and he said his training kicked in.
“I grabbed his head, put him in a C-Spine immobilization and tried to talk to him trying to get him to come to,” he said.
A nurse happened to pass by and stopped to help as well.
“The nurse was staying with the driver,” Arrieta said. “Her name is Liberty and she was alert but dazed. Then, I stayed with Summer who was in the back seat.”
Arrieta used to work in a trauma center.
Three people with the right skills happened to come together, and Arrieta said they all waited for EMT’s to arrive.
“A random team came together and that was something that was really special,” Gibson said.
As the scene continued, Arrieta said the local school’s principal came along with many neighbors and concerned citizens.
“There was probably a hundred or more people in my yard just really praying,” she said.
She also said that she wasn’t surprised by the accident.
She said the intersection is in between two blind hills on a fast state road with only two stop signs and flashing yellow lights that most drivers ignore.
She said in less than two years, she’s seen six accidents at the intersection, including the one described above.
Arrieta told 14 News that most of the kids had concussions, but they’d been discharged from the hospital in less than 24 hours. However, one of them had to return to the hospital on Friday because of leftover glass in her eye.
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