Three people injured, but none seriously
Ambulance crew members responding to an accident became victims themselves
when an 18-wheeler rig hauling bottled water slammed into their vehicle’s
rear end Friday morning on Interstate 65’s northbound lanes.
“Oh, my God, it happened so quick,” said motorist Kris Hall, who witnessed
the dramatic crash near the Creola exit.
The mid-morning accident left both vehicles destroyed and scattered hundreds
of Aquafina water bottles and hypodermic syringes across the grassy median.
Three people were injured. Two were treated and released at Springhill
Medical Center while the third, an ambulance crew member, was in good
condition and awaited evaluation for release Friday afternoon, said
spokesman Ronnie Newman of Newman Ambulance Service, which owns the
Newman would not release the names of the people, and the Creola police, who
worked the accident, did not return telephone calls seeking information.
The crash spawned another accident as traffic backed up while emergency
crews worked. One driver rear-ended a car, leading to a five-car pile-up in
the stagnant lanes two miles south of the ambulance/truck wreckage.
Northbound lanes of I-65 near the crash site were closed for several hours
Friday while the wreckage was removed.
Hall and his cousin, Patrick Hall, both from Gautier, Miss., said the
ambulance, with its emergency lights flashing, passed them in the northbound
lanes on I-65.
The cousins, who were in a mini-van, said they pulled over to the side of
the interstate when they saw the ambulance’s brake lights flash and the car
begin to drive in reverse.
The truck then plowed into the ambulance and rolled over “four or five
times,” Patrick Hall said.
The cousins said they leaped out of the car and ran over to the vehicles to
check on the victims.
The truck driver’s left leg was pinned, they said.
Kris Hall said he didn’t understand why the driver of the ambulance didn’t
take a nearby exit off the northbound lanes on the interstate to get to the
wreck it had been responding to instead of trying to cross the median.
The ambulance crew consisted of a man and a woman, Newman said. He said he
would not release their names until relatives were notified. Neither the
name of the truck driver nor his company were available Friday. Big pieces
of the ambulance and syringes, needles, and bandages were scattered along
the northbound lanes of the interstate for a hundred or more feet.
“Their adrenaline was probably going because of the wreck in the other
place,” Kris Hall said of the ambulance crew.
According to Newman, the ambulance crew was one of two units responding to a
crash in the southbound lanes of I-65.
Capt. Donald Patrick, a Saraland Fire Department firefighter, said a small
amount of diesel fuel spilled from the tractor-trailer rig, but it was
quickly contained and removed.
As steel-gray rain clouds gathered above the interstate, emergency workers
from Creola and neighboring Saraland and Satsuma collected the medical
Impatient drivers held hostage in the traffic got out of their cars and
traded what information they had gleaned with other drivers. Some
strategized how to navigate out of the stagnant mess.
“Everybody sit down,” said one man into his cell phone as he leaned against
his Jeep. “Nobody’s going nowhere.”
By RON COLQUITT and BETH MURTAGH