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Trooper lucky to be alive after fiery crash

A Tennessee Highway Patrol sergeant barely survived after his cruiser was struck by a flatbed truck in Knoxville earlier this week. The reason he did: quick action from a nearby ambulance crew and a Knoxville police officer who arrived at the scene of the truck accident seconds after it happened.

The patrol officer was in his cruiser on the westbound shoulder of Interstate 40 near Walker Springs Road when the accident happened. He had just completed a traffic stop and was completing paperwork when his car was struck.

The car reportedly was hit in the rear, was shoved across three lanes of traffic, spun and hit the concrete median wall, where it caught fire. The ambulance crew that had been following about a quarter-mile behind the truck stopped immediately and attempted to free the trooper from the wreckage.

He was unconscious in his seat as the flames crept closer. He had to be cut from his seatbelt while the crew subdued the flames with fire extinguishers. By the time they got him out the flames had spread to the driver's seat.

According to KnoxNews.com, he's still in critical condition, having suffered a brain injury, second-degree burns to his back and neck, a fractured neck and spine, lung damage from smoke inhalation and broken ribs.

The driver of the truck, who assisted with the man's rescue, probably fell asleep at the wheel, causing the crash. He's looking at felony charges of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault. He may also face misdemeanor charges of failing to comply with the move-over law and failing to exercise due care.

Source: KnoxNews.com, "THP trooper's rescue from fiery I-40 crash was 'game of seconds'," Hayes Hickman and Don Jacobs, March 14, 2012

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