Driver rescued after cement truck crashes, catches fire on Loop 101


by Jennifer Thomas and Kristine Harrington

Video report by Kristine Harrington

Posted on October 10, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 18 at 5:16 AM

CHANDLER, Ariz. – Three men pulled a driver out of a cement truck after it rolled onto its side and caught fire on state Route 101 near Chandler Boulevard Thursday morning.

The cement truck crashed into the concrete barrier median wall after a blowout in its left front tire, according to Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Raul Garcia.

The Rev. Herschel Crane Jr. has been a truck driver for about 20 years and a minister for the last 10. He immediately thought of those around him.

"The only thing I think about is just keep it away from other cars, don't hit anyone else," Crane said. "Next thing I know, I'm sideways, sliding down the freeway."

He looked to his right and saw fire, but was unable to get out of his seat belt and was dangling above the flames.

Three men driving by saw the truck and stopped to help.

"As I'm running towards the truck, I can hear the man in there screaming for help," said Victor, who did not want to be further identified.

Victor hoisted one of the other men up on the side of the truck and they managed to get the driver's door open. Victor had a knife with him to cut Herschel free.

"The funny part was I never carry a knife, so this morning, luckily, I just grabbed it and put it on me," Victor said.

"It was out of a movie," Victor added. "Once he was safe and we were away, I turned back and I would say that the flames probably doubled up in size so we got him out of there just in the nick of time."

Chandler firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire.

The driver sustained minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released.

Herschel is feeling blessed and calling those men heroes.

"All I can say is thank you because he cut my seat belt and those guys got me out of there or else I wouldn't be here," Herschel said.

Garcia said some diesel fuel and concrete spilled onto the roadway. The asphalt was damaged by the fire and a light post was knocked down.

The truck blocked most of the southbound lanes just north of the Loop 202 San Tan Freeway for part of the morning.