Five injured in collision
Published 10:21 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2001
By By JOHN WALLACE
A fiery head-on collision between a 2000 Ford Explorer and a 2000 Mazda Millenia on Alabama Highway 41 sent five people to area hospitals Friday afternoon.
Four people were in the Mazda which had a Clayton County, Ga. license plate. The driver of the Mazda was 25-year-old Roman Joseph Maney. The passengers were 27-year-old Terry Morris, Garrick Spears and Andrea Williams.
The Explorer was occupied by a driver identified as 17-year-old Brandy Rickett of Tuscaloosa, who is a student and volleyball player at Jefferson Davis Community College. She will turn 18 on Aug. 19.
The wreck, which happened approximately a half mile north of the intersection of Pea Ridge Road and Alabama Highway 41 at the 13.7 mile marker, occurred when the driver of the car attempted to pass several cars in a curve clearly marked by a solid double yellow line, according to eyewitnesses.
The car and SUV had nowhere to go to avoid a head-on collision and both drivers attempted to swerve into the ditch on the east side of the road to miss each other. Instead, the two vehicles met head on and an electrical fire quickly began to engulf the Explorer.
Two young men from Hartselle, Ala., Ben VanVoorst and Jon Harbin, saw the wreck happen.
Harbin said both drivers tried to avoid having a wreck.
They, along with Larry Heaton who was on his back to work at the Huxford Trust Land after lunch, quickly came to the aid of those involved in the wreck.
Heaton said they could not get the driver and front seat passenger of the Mazda free from their vehicle as the fire spread from the SUV to the car. Heaton's reaction was to pull the car away from the SUV with his pick-up truck.
VanVoorst said Heaton is a hero and probably saved the lives of all five people involved in the wreck because it looked like the vehicles were going to explode when the fire began to spread.
After separating the vehicles the men were able to extinguish the fire on the car, but the SUV continued to burn.
VanVoorst said the wreck thing happened "in slow motion right in front of us."
Harbin said it is a miracle no one was killed in the crash.
The Wallace Volunteer Fire Department was the first responder and VanVoorst said their reaction time was outstanding and one reason why nobody died from injuries.
Alabama State Trooper Wes Davis is investigating the wreck and said one vehicle was attempting an improper pass.
Heaton said he talked to the driver of the Mazda.
The driver of the Mazda was transported to Evergreen Hospital in an ambulance. The front seat passenger who sustained severe burns in the crash was transported to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, via BaptistFlight from the scene of the wreck. The other two passengers were taken to D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital via ambulance.
The driver of the SUV was transported to D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital and later taken to Baptist Hospital to undergo plastic surgery.