Essex driver is badly hurt in I-95 crash

February 23, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

A fiery collision on foggy Interstate 95 in Elkridge yesterday morning left an Essex man hospitalized with critical burns, and closed southbound lanes of the highway for about two hours.

The accident happened about 9 a.m. when a southbound United Parcel Service delivery truck rear-ended a Ford LTD that had become disabled in the right lane, state police said. The collision ruptured a gas tank, although police said yesterday that it was unclear which vehicle's tank ruptured.

Emergency workers credited the truck driver and two passers-by with pulling the driver from his burning car and extinguishing his clothing.

The driver and sole occupant of the Ford, Wilbur White Hurst, 24, of Essex in Baltimore County, was taken by ambulance to the Francis Scott Key Medical Center in Baltimore, where he was in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Authorities said he received second-degree burns over 50 percent of his upper body, and had a broken pelvis.

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

Investigators said Mr. Hurst had been unable to pull his 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."

"Two Good Samaritans and the UPS truck driver are the ones who jumped out and approached the burning vehicle, reached inside and removed the victim, who was still on fire," said Battalion Chief Donald R. Howell, a spokesman for Howard County Fire and Rescue Services. The men rolled Mr. Hurst in the snow to extinguish his burning clothes, he added.

Thomas Burks and Bill Zinkhan, a mechanic and a mechanic assistant for Baltimore-based Martec Services Inc., were on their way to Washington when they stopped to help Mr. Hurst. They could not be reached for comment later yesterday.

"These individuals risked their own safety to save someone else," Chief Howell said. If they had not, he added, "it could have been too late."

No charges were filed yesterday, but an investigation continues, Trooper Lange said.

About 20 rescuers from the county's fire and rescue department responded to the scene, and extinguished the fire about 9:30 a.m., Chief Howell said. The blaze caused $105,500 in damages to the vehicles and contents in the UPS truck.

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