MARTINS FERRY - A 10-year-old girl spent about two hours pinned inside the mangled cab of a rental truck after it slammed into the rear of a moving tractor-trailer Monday morning on state Route 7 in Martins Ferry.
Her father, who was driving the truck, was trapped inside the northbound vehicle for nearly an hour before firefighters and paramedics were able to pry him from the wreckage. Traffic came to a standstill in both directions as police turned the highway into a makeshift landing strip for two medical helicopters that stood by, waiting to fly them to Pittsburgh for treatment.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Brian McFarland said one helicopter flew the 10-year-old girl to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, while the other transported her 38-year-old father to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Their names have not yet been released.
ON THE SCENE — Firefighters and paramedics attempt to free a man and young girl trapped inside the cab of a Penske rental truck that rear-ended a tractor-trailer Monday on state Route 7 near Hanover Street in Martins Ferry. - Ian Hicks
McFarland did not believe the man's injuries were life-threatening, but he was not sure of the girl's condition. He said both were alert and conscious at the scene, however.
The family appeared to be in the process of moving. McFarland said their destination was somewhere in Jefferson County, but he was not sure where they were originally from.
The man's fiancee was following in a separate vehicle when the accident occurred, McFarland said. She apparently told troopers the man struck the tractor-trailer while attempting a lane change, but investigators could provide no further explanation for the collision.
The accident occurred around 9 a.m. Firefighters and paramedics from multiple area departments worked to free the man and girl from the truck's mangled cab, which was pinned underneath the fertilizer truck. Responders emptied the rental truck's trailer in an attempt to cut the girl out of the cab from the rear, tossing cardboard boxes, bedding, parts of a bed frame, a couch and other items from the vehicle and piling them along the guardrail.
The first helicopter arrived on scene at 9:40 a.m., followed by a second about 10 minutes later. The man was extracted from the vehicle at about 9:55 a.m. and was flown from the scene shortly thereafter, but it took responders roughly another hour to remove the child from the vehicle and get her into the second waiting helicopter.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, Rick Daniels of Wisconsin, was shaken after the incident, but both he and his teenage son who was traveling with him were unhurt. He was hauling 44,000 pounds of fertilizer to Turf Care Supply in Martins Ferry.
Daniels said he had eased off the accelerator as he approached a red light but estimated he was still traveling about 40 mph when he felt the impact of the rental truck striking him from behind. He said he initially feared the worst when he saw the truck's cab pinned beneath the rear of his trailer.
"He hit me hard. ... There was nothing more I could have done," said Daniels.
By noon, police were able to loosen the gridlock by opening up one lane of traffic in each direction, and normal traffic flow resumed later in the afternoon.