COLUMBIA CITY â€” A three-semi pile-up left U.S. 30 shut down for five hours Tuesday afternoon in Columbia City.
According to witnesses, several eastbound vehicles were stopped at the red light at U.S. 30 and Ind. 109, when a tractor-trailer plowed into the back of a semi, causing the trailer to jack-knife and the truck to rear-end the rig in front of it.
Witnesses say the jack-knifed trailer jumped approximately 15 feet into the air, before shaving off the cab of the semi behind it and landing on top of the engine â€”where the driver would have been sitting.
â€śI was going the other way and thought one of the trucks was going to cross the median and hit me,â€ť said a woman, who was a motorist in the westbound lane and who asked not to be identified. â€śThen, I saw the butt (trailer) of the Dollar General truck (the rig that jack-knifed) flying in the air.
The cab (of the rig that caused the collision) landed upside down, several feet away from the wreckage, and several emergency personnel on the scene said they were almost sure from the looks of the wreck, itâ€™d be a fatal.
Not only was the crash not a fatal, but the driver nearly got himself out of the vehicle.
After firemen got the door open, police say he nearly got out of the car by himself, with just a cut to the forehead.
He was transported to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne by ambulance, with non-life threatening injuries.
Jim Boggis of Michigan was in the tractor-trailer behind the collision, and said he was thankful he saw it coming.
â€śOnce I saw that trailer in the air, all I did was hit the breaks and look for somewhere to ditch my truck,â€ť Boggis said.
Boggis would have was headed for the median, but got the semi stopped before it went off the road.
â€śI ran up there and he was conscious and all he had was a cut on his forehead,â€ť Boggis said. â€śThere was a roll of paper towel and I grabbed some and had him put it on his head until help arrived.â€ť
Whitley Countyâ€™s Haz-MAT team was called to the scene to clean up large amounts of diesel fuel that covered the roadway, leaving U.S. 30 shut down for several hours.