A dash-cam video that surfaced this week of a trucker's reaction after witnessing a fiery crash paints a portrait of truckers that's good for the industry.
In this video (which according to the description happened last Monday, Aug. 11, not in 2013 as appears on the video), the dash cam records a car bursting into flames after losing control and T-boning a tanker truck on I-10 near Biloxi, Mississippi.
The dash cam captures the reactions of truck driver David Fredericksen and a passenger as they witness the crash and come to a stop. The passenger insists that the car's occupants must be dead. Nevertheless, the driver suggests trying to get people out of the car. Noting that he has a fire extinguisher, and despite the passenger's protests, the driver gets out of the truck with the extinguisher and trots toward the fire.
(Regulations would tell you he really should have put out his reflectors first, but c'mon....)
Only after the trucker appears do others get out of their cars and help.
The other drivers pull a woman and a 1-year-old child from the burning car as Fredericksen does his best to douse the flames. He later learned the woman had a broken leg.
After pulling the passengers out of the car, and escaping to the side of the road, the video shows Frederickson and the other rescuers watch as the fire grows to swallow the entire car.
The video has been featured on TV, reposted numerous times on web and social media, and has hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
“Thankfully my father had the presence of mind, bravery, and forethought of carrying a fire extinguisher, to be the first person on scene to risk his own life in order to possibly save another and to inspire others and lead them into taking action,” the YouTube user going by steakbbq wrote of the video, which he said is of his father. “Everyone involved in the rescue effort is a hero in my books.”
(Of course, truckers are required by law to carry a fire extinguisher, but not everyone has the presence of mind to use it.)
There's another trucker involved in this tale, and while he may not be hailed as a hero, he faced the kind of helpless situation that gives drivers nightmares.
According to published reports, the crash happened when the Lincoln Town Car failed to yield while heading into traffic, and hit a tanker tractor-trailer driven by Scott Swanstrom.
Swanstrom told WLOX-TV in Biloxi, Miss., “I started to get into the left lane when I saw her fishtailing and started swerving, and she just came straight across from the on ramp right across two lanes into me. All I could do was stand on the brake and hold on.”
Swanstrom told the station that he had to kick out his passenger door to escape as the truck started burning. As he started walking back through the debris to get to the car that hit him, he said, he saw a baby stroller, apparently ejected from the car in the crash.
"I held my daughter so tight when I got home last night. There's no doubt in my mind I could have never drove again if I took somebody's life."
The concern and caring in that driver's actions and comments also paint a positive, and very human, picture of truck drivers. In its own quiet way that's just as important to the image of truckers as the heroic actions of Fredericksen.
(The WLOX story also includes photos taken by Swanstrom of the charred truck and car after the flames were put out.)