WITH THE radio news in the background and the traffic rumbling obediently along, it’s a drive like any other ‒ until one car T-bones an 18-wheeler, and an unsuspecting truck driver turns hero.
Last week, David Fredericksen was driving on the I-10 interstate highway near Biloxi, Mississippi to the drone of traffic and the background chatter of a news programme when a car, joining the highway from a slip road, smashed into the side of a large truck some 200m ahead of him.
The Lincoln Towncar penetrated the vehicle’s fuel tank sending the truck careering from the middle lane into the concrete safety barrier, and triggering a huge explosion.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” cried Fredericksen as the Lincoln ricocheted off the side of the truck, spinning and scattering debris across the carriageway as the fireball erupted skywards and a cloud of acrid black smoke engulfed oncoming vehicles.
As the full enormity of what had just happened sank in, Fredericksen remembered he had a fire extinguisher and, without any regard for his personal safety, jogged from this cab to put out the flames now raging around the Towncar.
Inspired by his actions, fellow drivers joined the hero driver in the dash to quell the flames and free the car’s occupants, assuming they were still alive.
As his extinguisher did its work Fredericksen saw the driver of the Towncar desperately kicking at her mangled door to get out. He grabbed the handle and, in one superhuman effort, pulled it open and helped her out. In that same instant he saw a baby girl, still strapped to her car seat, just clear of the flames, and despite struggling to breathe, pulled her out, too.
Together with his co-driver and other motorists who had witnessed the accident, they got the baby, who escaped with only minor injuries, and her grandmother, who had suffered a broken leg, away from the inferno to safety.
Fredericksen’s heroic efforts, and those of his fellow drivers, were captured on his dashcam, which the trucker had purchased just six months before.
Later, reflecting on his quick-thinking and total disregard for his own safety, Fredericksen said: “I trusted in God when I went there. It could’ve blown up and killed me. I don’t feel it’s heroic. Other people would’ve done what I did. Really, what I feel is when I first got out of the truck, I was praying that they wouldn’t be dead. I’m just glad they didn’t die, you know?”