Trapped Florida Crash Victim's Leg Amputated

Trapped Florida Crash Victim's Leg Amputated

News Nov 03, 2007

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. --

Surgeons were called to the scene of a garbage truck crash on Friday and amputated a woman's leg in order to free her from the wreckage.

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The garbage truck overturned just before noon Friday on Taft Street in Pembroke Pines.

"The truck is flipped over; garbage is everywhere," witness Kari Giannamoros said.

The driver, 36-year-old Gwendolyn Hightower, spent an hour and 20 minutes pinned under the 18-ton garbage truck while rescue crews worked to free her.

Images from Chopper 6 showed firefighters and surgeons surrounding the garbage truck before pulling Hightower from the truck's cab.

"Obviously she was entangled in the wreckage," said Shawn Hallich of the Pembroke Pines Fire Department. "They had to bring surgical teams out to do procedures to free her from the vehicle."

Officials said Hightower was driving an All Service Waste Management truck.

"Based on the roadway evidence, speed might have been a factor," said Sgt. John Gazzano of Pembroke Pines police.

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Authorities said she was controlling the truck from the passenger side, which also has pedals, when it rolled over in the Pembroke Pines subdivision at the intersection of Taft and 140th streets.

"When she turned, the door was open," Gazzano said. "She fell out of the vehicle as the vehicle rolled over her."

There was a male passenger, 24-year-old Alex Wright, in the garbage truck. He was treated at the scene and is in stable condition.

Witnesses said rescue teams worked quickly together to save the woman's life.

"They were very fast," Giannamoros said. "They took care of her right away. I think if it wasn't for them responding so quick and getting to the scene, she might not have made it because she might have bled to death."

Hightower was taken to Hollywood Memorial Regional Hospital to recover.

Police said they are continuing to investigate the situation before they issue any charges.

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