Bystanders pull crash victims from flames

MORRISTOWN — Bystanders who witnessed a fiery crash on Interstate 70 near Morristown on Wednesday morning likely saved five lives when they pulled the occupants of the vehicle from the wreckage.

Meanwhile, a second collision in St. Clairsville that sent at least two people to local hospitals that afternoon may have been the result of a medical emergency.

According to Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. James Faunda, a car was traveling east on Interstate 70 shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday at about the 209 mile marker when it apparently began to accelerate for an unknown reason. Occupants told Faunda the car reached a speed of about 90 mph before the driver lost control. The vehicle then rolled several times and caught fire as it came to rest in the median.

Bystanders pulled the driver and passengers from the vehicle, Faunda said, preventing them from “burning to death.” Faunda did not know Wednesday whether a mechanical or electrical problem may have caused the car to accelerate. He said if that was the case, the same problem may have sparked the fire.

One person was critically injured with severe burns to their lower body, throat and lungs. That individual was transported by a Stat MedEvac helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital. The remaining four occupants were taken by ambulance to local hospitals.

Cumberland Trail Fire District responded with assistance from the Belmont, Bethesda and Lafferty volunteer fire departments. No additional information was available late Wednesday regarding the crash, those injured or the bystanders who rescued the victims.

At least two more people were injured in an unrelated head-on collision on Ohio 9 in St. Clairsville on Wednesday afternoon.

Lt. Michael Troullos of the St. Clairsville Police Department said a Chrysler Town & Country was traveling north on Ohio 9, also known as South Marietta Street, when it apparently went left of center and struck a Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck head-on. Two people were transported to area hospitals, but their conditions were not immediately known.

Troullos said the driver of the Town & Country may have suffered a medical emergency, leading to the crash. He said at the scene that he did not expect to issue any citations related to the crash, and he declined to release the names of those involved.