Roll-Over Collision

“Dispatch to Channel Three.  We have multiple reports of a roll-over accident at E 49th Ave and Fraser St.  EHS and Fire are en route.”

As with most accidents, if I’m close and not already on a call, I’ll start rolling that way in the event the collision turns into a hit-and-run or one of the drivers flees the scene on foot.  This happens more than you would expect, and the success rate of being one of the first ones to a scene where a suspect has fled pays dividends for a dog handler, so I started rolling towards this one.

I ended being the first one there and found the collision occurred when one driver slammed into several parked cars, flipping his van in the process. On first glance at the van, I observed the following:

  • the van was resting on its side
  • all the airbags had deployed
  • the windshield was completely smashed with a large, body sized hole on the drivers side
  • there was no one in the van

My first thought was the driver had been ejected, and I asked a few witnesses if they had seen what happened and if they knew where the driver was.  One witness pointed to a man sitting on the curb.  Thinking I was being pointed towards another witness, I asked the man if he had seen what happened.  He shook his head, saying he was the driver.

When I asked if he was injured, he again shook his head.  Considering the mangled windshield and the damage usually sustained by the human body when ejected from a vehicle, and considering the man appeared to be in shock, I asked if he had been thrown through the window and was met a third head shake.

My brain was trying to figure out why the van’s window was smashed when another man came up to us.  He was jittery from a post-adrenalin rush and his posture was straight and proud.  His words were jumbled-together-quick as he explained he had heard the accident, ran outside and saw the van rolled over onto its side.  He said the driver was “screaming for help” and the van was “full of smoke”.

The man ran back to his house, grabbed an axe, and ran back to the van, where he proceeded to hack away at the windshield, Paul Bunyan style, to free the driver.  Once the windshield had been defeated, he had reached through and cut the driver’s seatbelt off.  The driver crumpled to the ground inside the van, and was yanked out through the broken windshield by his axe-wielding rescuer.

“How big an axe?” I asked.

“It’s right there,” the man said, and pointed to where the full-sized axe was leaning against a fence.

Good Lord.  No wonder the driver was in shock.

The area of the windshield that sustained the majority of the axe strikes was where the driver’s head and upper body would have been as he hung, suspended by his seatbelt.  I suspect I would have been screaming, too.

As for the smoke in the van?  It was a by-product of airbag deployment and not the result of a fire.

The driver was checked by paramedics and was found to have no injuries.  His seatbelt and the airbags in his van did what they were supposed to do.  I left shortly after, so I’m not sure what caused the collision in the first place, but I do know one thing – regardless of how thankful he was for being assisted after the collision, the driver will probably have nightmares about being attacked by an axe-wielding man over the next little while.

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