Darrington firefighters save life of drowsy driver

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DARRINGTON It might not sound lucky to fall asleep at the wheel and run off the road in the middle of the woods, but on
Sept. 8, one drowsy driver got lucky enough to wreck his vehicle in front of the houses of two volunteer firefighters.
Darrington Fire Department Capt. Brian Mount and Assistant Chief Rocky Cabe live just a short stretch away from each other on State Route 530, between Oso and Darrington, and both men heard alarming noises not far from their front doors at 10 p.m.
It just kept getting louder, Mount said. My son and Tyler Pendergass, one of our firefighters, went out and found a truck upside down in a ditch, with one occupant.
It was the sound of metal twisting, Cabe said. Our houses are kitty-cornered to one another and we saw that the truck had managed to jump both of our driveways in turn, 20 feet at a time. It must have rolled 200 feet after that. The rear end was only being held on by the emergency brake cable, and the cab was smashed all the way down. It was the worst wreck Id ever seen and I couldnt imagine at first how anyone had survived.
Mount and Cabe agreed that their firefighter training took over at that point, as Mount tried to get the driver to turn off the vehicle, while he and Cabe both struggled to remove the driver from the vehicle.
The driver literally didnt even know which end was up, Mount said. When I reached into the cab, I heard a popping noise and got back out to see the motor compartment was in flames. Then Rocky showed up and crawled in, and I sent my son to fetch the fire extinguisher from our kitchen.
A passerby whom neither Cabe nor Mount could identify supplied a knife, which Cabe used to try and cut the drivers seatbelt, while Mount emptied his fire extinguisher in an attempt to douse the engine flames.
I grabbed the guy by the arms, but he said his legs were still pinned, Mount said. Rocky was coughing from the smoke, but he and I finally dragged the guy out. Tyler and I went to the station to get a rescue rig and by the time we got back, that truck turned into a big old fireball.
It only took two minutes from the time we went out to the vehicle, to the time it burned up, Cabe said. This guy had just flown into Seattle and been awake since 2 a.m., so when he came around that corner, hed already dozed off. He walked away with nothing worse than bruises. I was shocked he could walk at all. He thanked us that night.
The motorist went on to pay for the row of mailboxes hed run over while at the wheel. Ironically, Mount believes that the way the driver fell asleep might have saved his life.
He seemed to slump over sideways, onto the passenger side, Mount said. If he hadnt, he would have been decapitated, at least, when the cab was crushed.
Accidents dont always come out so great, Cabe said. He was very lucky this wasnt a fatality. It might sound funny, but he was lucky to wreck his rig in front of the houses of two volunteer firefighters at 10 p.m., when they were both still awake.
The motorist was not able to be reached for comment.

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