Pinned in Pasadena
by Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Morton's Towing & Recovery is a family towing company located in the heart of Montgomery County, Md. Owner David Morton has 30-plus years' experience and leads his team by example. He has won many awards from AAA, including "Driver of the Year" twice. They have one of the largest fleets in the Maryland area. This fleet of 48 trucks includes three 50-ton rotators.
On March 16, Morton's received a call from Anne Arundel County Fire and Rescue to assist in the rescue of a driver trapped in an overturned cement mixer.
It was reported that the driver flipped the truck while navigating a curve in the narrow road and crashed in Pasadena. The mixer had rolled over, crashed into a utility pole and landed on its side. The pole cracked and wires were knocked down on the vehicle, with the driver pinned inside.
Morton's dispatched operator Ronnie Doss in their 2014 Peterbilt 389 Century 7035 35-ton and operator Jason Sullivan in their 2016 Pete 389 Century 1150R 50-ton rotator.
Morton's General Manager John Collins was out in their 2016 Ford F550 4×4 with a Chevron Autogrip collecting checks when he received the call. Collins comes from a long line of firefighters and has done quite a bit of cross-training with the Howard County Fire Department. When this incident occurred they requested him.
"I was close by," Collins said, "so I immediately responded in our F-550 4×4."
He was first on scene from Morton's. Doss arrived in the Century 7035 shortly after, but couldn't get close to the wreck because the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. was working on securing the cracked pole.
The power company was able to secure the pole and the Shock Trauma Go Team was called to the scene. The Shock Trauma team is called when it is evident a prolonged rescue, like this incident, could affect the patient's outcome.
It was a complicated rescue operation. They had to work around the pole, downed wires and remnants of the truck cab where the driver was pinned. They had to cut metal and Morton's Towing and Recovery was called in to move and stabilize the cement mixer and lift some of the weight off of the driver.
Once the pole was secured Collins had Doss back the Century 7035 up as close as he could to the mixer. They rigged one winch line to the pole and another to the passenger side frame rail between the front axle and firewall.
"When Jason arrived in the Century 50-ton rotator," Collins explained, "he pulled down the street, but had limited access because of the power company equipment. Then more fire trucks showed up so he couldn't pull out. There was limited space to work in, and that was the biggest issue. We were under power lines and had a bad angle and degree with only 14- to 16-feet working height under the fiber optic lines."
They rigged one line from the 50-ton to passenger frame rail behind the cab and the other to the bracing that holds the mixer drum motor and drum.
"We had to bring it up perfectly straight, couldn't tweak it at all because of the way the driver was trapped," Collins stated. "His head was pinned under the top of the door with the roof pinched down on him. The rescue workers cut a lot of truck away and we lifted it up about 3- or 4-inches so they could get him out."
It took over two hours to free the pinned driver. Fire department officials said he had to be flown to Shock Trauma in Baltimore with what appeared to be serious but not life-threatening injuries. It was reported that he was conscious and talking as they prepared to fly him out.
"After the driver was out we lowered the mixed and repositioned the 50-ton," Collins informed. "The mixer was loaded and had lost some weight during the wreck, but still weighed about 72,800 pounds. One of its front springs on the driver's side was broken at the front spring shackle."
Once the rescue was done and the driver was out, Morton's crew waited for the fire and power apparatus to be cleared. They then repositioned their wreckers for uprighting. They rigged the mixer and uprighted it.
When it was back on its wheels they prep the mixer for towing, secured it and hauled it back to their yard with the 7035.Show Yours @ TIWDo you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at firstname.lastname@example.org; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!