Monday, June 25, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As of Monday at 5 p.m., Joe Banks was said to be in good condition at GHS Medical Center.
News 12 at 6 o' clock / Sunday, June 24, 2012
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. -- Joe Banks drives a lot for work. He says he always pulls over if he gets sleepy, but early on Saturday morning, he fell asleep at the wheel, leading to a fiery crash.
"I was awoken by the truck rolling into the grass, hit the guard rail, and that was it," he said.
He is recovering at GHS Medical Center. He fell asleep at the wheel for a split second, but it was a split second that would change his life.
"The seat, the cab the steering wheel, everything was just right around me, I couldn't get it off," he said.
The accident happened around mile marker 187 near the weigh station on I-20. His truck hit the guardrails and then crashed into the weigh station sign.
"It really shocked me at how quickly everyone responded," Banks said. "Before I could even get a grasp what's happened, I'm hearing sirens and flashing lights and people right outside the truck."
One of the first responders was Georgia State Trooper Matthew MacDonald, who just happened to be on I-20 in Columbia County when he heard the call.
"The fire was starting to come up through the floorboard ... he was starting to be burned at that time," MacDonald said.
Banks said the responding officers were right there in the fire, pulling at the door and cutting the seat belt. But the seat belt wouldn't come loose, and Banks was trapped, yelling out, "... I need a knife, I need a knife."
The trooper just happened to have a survival knife he'd left in his patrol car. Banks was able to cut himself out of his seat belt. The first responders were able to pry him out of the vehicle with crow bars.
Even though Banks suffered second-degree burns and a broken pelvis, he says he's just thankful to be alive.
"Definitely eye-opening, you know ... so many people out there so selfless ... they were more worried about me than their own safety, it was just incredible," he said.
MacDonald says the rescue was a team effort involving a number of Columbia County Sheriff's deputies, fire crews and EMS.
"Everyone gets in this job, and they hope they can have an impact on somebody's life," he said.