STRAWBERRY PLAINS, Tenn. (WATE) – The driver of a dump truck that caught fire Tuesday afternoon is in stable condition, partly thanks to two strangers.
According to a Tennessee Highway Patrol crash report, Willard Phillips, 57, of Rocky Top, was driving on Andrew Johnson Highway when his dump truck overturned and caught fire.
The crash happened just outside of the Strawberry Plains Post Office, which is a few businesses down from Auto Medics Service Center.
Robert Glazier, owner of Auto Medics Service Center, was at work when he heard the crash.
“We heard a noise and thought it was a truck, or a trailer making noise, and then all of a sudden we saw a big cloud of smoke,” Glazier said.
Glazier said he could feel the explosion from his work, which is less than a quarter of a mile away.
He said he jumped into his truck and headed toward the smoke, because he knew someone was going to need help.
When he got there, people started to crowd around the scene because the fiery truck was blocking the road.
… I would recommend if you can save somebody, save somebody.”Robert Glazier, owner of Auto Medics Service Center
“When I first got there, the flames must have been 25 feet high behind the vehicle. And it’s fortunate the vehicle laid over on its side, so we were actually able to get him,” Glazier said.
He said it was a very chaotic scene, but one person next to him said someone was still inside the truck.
Glazier ran to the truck without hesitation, despite flames surrounding the vehicle.
“I think there was some people that wanted to help, but it was so hot they couldn’t get near it,” Glazier said.
One other person though braved the heat and flames.
“If it weren’t for him it would’ve taken longer (to pull out the driver), but we would’ve still got him,” Glazier said.
Glazier said the driver, Phillips, was conscious when they first got to the truck, but blood was coming out of his mouth and he looked beaten up.
“He did say, ‘I’m hurt really bad.’ Then he collapsed,” Glazier recalled.
He said they knew they had to get Phillips out quick.
“The fire was starting to creep around, the tires were blowing as we were pulling him out. I mean, one after another, after another, after another. It was pretty hectic,” Glazier said.
He and the other man pulled Phillips out before first responders arrived.
Once troopers and firefighters got to the scene, Phillips was taken to UT Medical Center, and Glazier went back to work.
Glazier said he didn’t hesitate to rush to help because it is in his blood; it was how he grew up and he believes someone would do the same for him.
“There’s risk with everything, you know, and maybe I acted carelessly and just rushed in and did it, but I would recommend if you can save somebody, save somebody,” Glazier said.
Glazier said he was grateful for the other man’s help.
“Thank you very much for being a good human,” he said.