On July 19, 2022, GF William Pearson (Division 15, Florida) and Line Supervisor Kevin Ritter were leaving a job site on Highlands County Line Rd., Arcadia, FL. They were followed by Crew Leader Jeremy Cross driving to another job site approximately four miles away.
As this group pulled onto Florida SR 70, two semi-trucks collided. After the initial collision, one of the semi-trucks stayed upright on the road while the second flipped onto its side and slid into a large ditch filled with water. The team immediately stopped their vehicles and activated their strobe lights to alert oncoming vehicles of a hazard on the roadway.
William and Kevin ran to the truck that was in the water-filled ditch and found the driver unresponsive. They noticed he had a piece of round metal sticking out of his right collar bone area, a screwdriver stuck into his left facial area, and apparent broken legs. William called to Jeremy to grab the first aid kit so he and Kevin could apply first aid.
The driver of the flipped vehicle became alert and responsive while William and Kevin were dressing the wounds. William and Kevin stayed with the driver and kept him alert until medical staff could arrive approximately 40 minutes later.
While William and Kevin were tending to the driver, Jeremy donned PPE and grabbed a chainsaw to cut a path from the roadway through the brush and ditch so medical staff could quickly tend to the driver.
While the medical staff was en route, this group of heroes cut the battery cable so the leaking fuel would not catch fire, and fought off snakes and alligators—all while keeping the driver above water so he would not drown.
When medical staff arrived, they attempted to get the driver out but were unsuccessful due to the state of the cab and doors. Firefighters asked Jeremy to clear a path on the other side of the truck so they could use the Jaws of Life hydraulic rescue tool to extract the driver. He did so without question.
At the time the driver was extracted, an EMS helicopter landed on the roadway to transport him to Gulf Coast Hospital Trauma Center.
William and Kevin were in constant contact with the driver’s wife to keep her calm and updated as EMS and firefighters extracted her husband, applied first aid, and transported him.
Since the crash, the driver has reached out to William several times to thank him for his lifesaving efforts.