Mount Shasta Area CHP commander says truck driver would have perished if not for the efforts of a passing motorist and two CHP officers.
A concerned citizen and two CHP?officers are being praised for “unselfish acts of heroism” after they risked their own safety to pull a truck driver from the cab of a burning big rig Sept. 24 on Interstate 5 north of Mott Rd.
James McDonald, age 39, of Anderson, suffered third degree burns to more than 35 percent of his body before he was removed from the cab, according to a California Highway Patrol news release.
McDonald was transported by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta then flown to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. He was also arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and subsequently released to the care of the hospital, the CHP reported.
With flames beginning to engulf the cab of the 2004 Peterbilt tractor McDonald was driving, CHP officers Jason Smith and Rod Richards and Perry Nitz of British Colombia, a passing motorist, helped get McDonald out.
“With the lower extremities of the driver on fire, all three were able to get the driver’s door open and remove him to safety,” the CHP report states. “Within seconds of the driver being removed, the tractor exploded in flames.”
Nitz and Officers Richards and Smith were all treated for severe smoke inhalation and released from Mercy Mt. Shasta. Smith was also treated for minor burns to his hands.
CHP Lieutenant Jeff Lee, the Mount Shasta CHP?Commander, said, “If it were not for the unselfish acts of heroism and split second decisions by both CHP?officers and our concerned citizen, Mr. McDonald would certainly have perished in this accident.”
The fire in McDonald’s cab began after he rear-ended another big rig while both were traveling northbound on I-5 in lane #3 at approximately 2 p.m.
The CHP?said the cause of the accident is still under investigation.
Many local agencies responded to the accident, including CAL FIRE, the Mount Shasta City Fire Department, the Dunsmuir Fire Department, the Mount Shasta Fire Protection District and the US Forest Service.