2 passers-by rescue driver in I-95 wreck

February 23, 1993|By Alisa Samuels and Frank Langfitt | Alisa Samuels and Frank Langfitt,Staff Writers

The name and residence of Wilbur Whitehurst, the man rescued from a fiery crash on Interstate 95 Monday, were incorrectly reported in yesterday's editions. Mr. Whitehurst is from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Two passers-by rescued a man from a burning car moments before it exploded yesterday morning on a foggy stretch of Interstate 95 in Elkridge.

A mechanic and his helper came upon the scene about 9 a.m. after a southbound United Parcel Service delivery truck rear-ended a Ford LTD that had become disabled in the right lane, state police said.


The car caught fire after one of the vehicles' gas tanks ruptured. Southbound lanes were closed for about two hours.

Thomas Burks, the mechanic, and Bill Zinkhan, his helper, were on their way to a job in Washington when they saw the accident. As they pulled over, several people were standing nearby watching, afraid the burning car would explode, Mr. Zinkhan said.

The driver of the UPS truck was kneeling on the ground in a state of shock, screaming for someone to help the man trapped inside.

Mr. Zinkhan, 19, yanked the bent door off the battered car.

He and Mr. Burks pulled out the driver, who was on fire from the waist down. With the help of the UPS driver and others, they rolled him on the cement to put out the flames.

"As soon as he saw he was out of the vehicle . . . he just looked and said 'thanks'," said Mr. Burks, 41, who lives in Essex, Baltimore County.

The two men then dragged the driver from the roadway and laid him in the snow. About 20 seconds after they got him out of the car, it exploded.

"When it blew, I started thinking, 'What did I just do?' " said Mr. Zinkhan, who lives in Baltimore County's Parkville area.

The driver and sole occupant of the Ford, Wilbur White Hurst, 24, of Essex, was taken by ambulance to the Francis Scott Key Medical Center in Baltimore. He was listed in critical condition in the burn unit around 9 o'clock last night. Authorities said he also suffered a broken pelvis.

The UPS truck driver, Ray Fox, 32, of the 1500 block of Ridge Road in Westminster, was taken to Howard County General Hospital. He was treated and released.

The accident occurred after Mr. Hurst's car became disabled. He was unable to pull the car onto the shoulder of the highway, so he parked it in the right lane of southbound I-95 just north of Route 100. Moments later, the UPS truck approached.

"He [Mr. Fox] didn't see it in enough time to completely brake," said Maryland State Trooper Graham Lange. "I believe that was due to the weather conditions, the fog and the haze from the sunlight."

The county's fire and rescue department extinguished the fire about 9:30 a.m., according to officials. No charges were filed in the accident yesterday, but an investigation continues, Trooper Lange said.

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