North Wilkesboro resident Tony Roten has been credited with helping save the life of a tractor-trailer driver after a wreck occurred in McDowell County on May 7.
Roten and another man, Brad Bost of Hickory, were in separate vehicles behind the tractor-trailer in westbound Interstate 40 when the I8-wheeler veered into the far left lane and struck the guardrail, causing it to overturn and catch on fire, reported Trooper Kirk Hensley of the N.C. Highway Patrol.
Hensley said two passersby, Roten and Bost, saved the life of the tractor-trailer driver, Richard Justin Wayne, 39, of Salisbury. Roten and Bost were credited with pulling Wayne out through the windshield and getting him to safety after Wayne kicked out a large portion of the windshield.
The cab and the trailer separated during the crash, knocking out a large portion of the median, witnesses said. Bost said the truck then ignited quickly, and Roten was already running to help the driver while he called 91l.
Bost told the McDowell News in Marion that he was trying to dial 911 when Wayne started busting out the window with his foot. “Once he got the window busted, we got him drug out of the car because we were scared it was going to blow up,” said Bost.
Roten told the McDowell News, “I didn’t really do anything that I don’t think anybody else would do.” He said his first thought was just to get the tractor-trailer driver out to safety. He added that he has friends who drive trucks and thought of them at that moment.
Wayne, conscious but shaken up when pulled from the cab, was transported to Mission Hospital McDowell in Marion with non-life-threatening injuries. His rig was hauling mulch.