Civilians Rescue Man Pinned Under Blazing Vehicle
Jan. 28--Charles Hoyt II was over at his father's place in Jackson Township, working with him in the old springhouse, when the two men heard the squeal of tires and a loud crash on Hillside Road.
The Hoyts were used to vehicles flying around the curve in the road near the Farmer's Inn. So many cars had hit one particularly large oak tree that Charles Hoyt painted "OUCH" on it.
Jackson Township police said 60-year-old Walter O'Hara Jr. of Sweet Valley collided with that tree in his 2001 Ford pickup truck at 10:19 a.m. Jan. 20. He was critically injured and his truck burnt.
It was a bad accident -- but those involved in O'Hara's rescue believe it could have been a lot worse.
After hearing the crash, Hoyt II hurried to the scene.
"The whole time I was running, I was thinking, just don't let there be kids involved," said the 47-year-old township resident, who has children of his own.
Meanwhile, David Mack of Benton and his wife, Lori, were en route to Wilkes-Barre to do a little shopping.
"I was driving past, heading towards Hillside Dairy. As I came up on the curve, I noticed a bunch of debris on the road," David Mack said.
The Macks stopped immediately at the sight of a truck crashed against a tree with a man beneath the truck. Hoyt II arrived as Lori Mack was calling 911 on her cellphone.
O'Hara, the driver of the truck, was bleeding and one leg was obviously fractured above the knee.
"When the bone puts a hole in your pant leg, it's a good one," Hoyt II said.
He and David Mack pulled O'Hara out from under the truck and off to the side of the road.
While waiting for an ambulance, Hoyt II talked to O'Hara, asking his name and what his injuries were, noting that he appeared to be in shock but was coherent.
"I told him when he gets out of the hospital, I want to sign his cast," Hoyt II said.
But before emergency personnel could get there, O'Hara's truck burst into flames.
It happened so quickly Hoyt II and David Mack were taken aback. They knew they had to get O'Hara out of there, fast, despite the pain he was in.
"I apologized to Walter and we drug him," Hoyt II said.
He said as he and David Mack dragged the badly wounded O'Hara to safety, a third man stopped his car, helped them get O'Hara across the road, said "good luck" and left.
The truck was fully engulfed in flames when Jackson Township police Officer Kevin Ransom arrived.
The township's fire department extinguished the blaze, and O'Hara was transported to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township with critical injuries, Jackson Township police Sgt. Scott Davis said.
Police are investigating the crash. There's no indication so far of why the vehicle left the right side of the road, hit the tree, spun counterclockwise and came to rest near the Hillside Creek bed, Davis said.
O'Hara remained hospitalized last week, but his condition has been upgraded to "fair," Geisinger spokeswoman Vickie Halsey said.
The Macks never made it to Wilkes-Barre to do their shopping that Sunday: "I was a little wet and muddy," David Mack said.
His regret was that nobody had a fire extinguisher.
"People need to carry fire extinguishers. That would have been much easier," David Mack said.
But, he said of O'Hara, "I'm glad he's all right. That's the important thing."
Hoyt II is modest about his role in O'Hara's rescue.
"I don't think I did anything that somebody else wouldn't do. I'm just glad it wasn't as bad as it could have been," Hoyt II said.
Copyright 2013 - The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.