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LUCAMA — A man was cut from his SUV moments before the vehicle was consumed by fire after colliding with a transport truck near Lucama Tuesday afternoon.
Jeff Johnson, assistant chief of the Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department, said his department was notified of the crash on U.S. 301 at Creech Road about a mile east of Lucama at 4:42 p.m. Johnson said the SUV was engulfed in fire when fire crews arrived.
Michael Clay of Lucama was an eyewitness to the crash.
Clay said he was sitting at the stop sign pointed north at the intersection of Creech Road and U.S. 301 when the SUV, heading south on Creech Road, crossed the highway and drove into the path of the transport truck, which was headed east.
“The SUV came across the intersection. The tractor-trailer T-boned him perfect, right in the side, flipped him over into the ditch,” Clay said.
The SUV came to rest in the median of the four-lane divided highway. The transport trailer of the type that would typically haul grain ran off the right side of the road still pointed toward Wilson.
“I went over and opened the back door. I noticed the fire was up under the car,” Clay said. “The fire started under it. I saw the fire dripping.”
Clay said he yelled for law enforcement officers who had arrived on the scene do get a fire extinguisher.
“We had a deputy and an animal enforcement officer to an outstanding job assisting on the scene,” said Wanda Samuel, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office chief of staff. “Both of them assisted with extinguishing the fire long enough to pull one of the injured that was trapped in the vehicle away from the burning vehicle.”
The deputy was Cpl. Edwin Stewart and the animal enforcement officer was Angela Coleman.
“Coleman was the first officer on the scene within seconds of the incident,” Samuel said.
Clay said the big rig’s driver was not harmed. The driver of the SUV wasn’t as fortunate.
“By the time they got him out, the car was almost all the way up in flames, but he survived, though,” Clay said. “It crushed his arm. They got him out in the street and away from the car. The guy who helped pull him out cut his seat belt. The guy crawled out of the car as it was on fire.”
Clay said the man in the SUV was alone and appeared to be in his mid-40s.
“At the time, when I was opening the back door, and before the officers pulled up, he was unconscious. But he was still moving, so I knew he wasn’t dead,” Clay said. “He slid out the passenger side. I don’t know how he did it, but he did. Both of his arms were messed up. They pulled him on out and he hung out and they pulled him out the rest of the way and he fell in the ditch and they drug him across the street.”
Clay said the officer dragged the man across the street on the concrete away from the burning vehicle.
According to Clay, it only took “a couple of minutes” before the SUV was engulfed in fire.
“It didn’t take long,” Clay said. “I thought the guy was going to burn to death. He’s lucky. He scared me half to death.”
Wilson County EMS took the sport utility vehicle’s driver to the hospital.
The N.C. Highway Patrol is investigating the crash. Drivers’ names were not immediately available.
The Black Creek Volunteer Fire Department assisted at the scene of the wreck and subsequent fire. The crash resulted in a road closure that stopped traffic in both directions for more than an hour.