MARTINS FERRY The status of the 10-year-old girl critically injured in the two-vehicle crash near the intersection of Hanover Streetand Ohio 7 on Monday was still in doubt as of press time.
The last official report from Ohio State Highway Patrol was that she was listed in critical condition with life threatening injuries.
The combined effort from a number of emergency crews Monday likely gave her that chance.
Martins Ferry Fire Department and EMS members were one of the first crews on the scene Monday and quickly took in the seriousness of the situation.
While there are conflicting reports of how the accident took place between a tractor-trailer and a Penske moving truck, this much was certain: The Penske truck had run up under the trailer, two people, a man and a 10-year-old girl needed rescuing from the truck and the massive damage to the front, passenger-side of the truck was going to make the girl's rescue a complicated one.
"The passenger side damage was far more extensive," recalled Martins Ferry Fire Chief Jack Regis. "The dashboard was rolled over on top of her and the trailer from the semi was stuck on top of the moving van itself."
Emergency crews actually worked through the rear of the truck with the Jaws of Life to get the girl out, but time was ticking.
Regis noted the extraction was made easier once the large boom truck from Bill's Towing was able to lift the trailer up off the front of the Penske truck, alleviating some of the pressure.
"They hooked the crane up to the trailer and lifted it up off the truck and, from there, we were able to extricate her more quickly but there was still another 10 minutes from that point getting her safely out of the vehicle and onto a stretcher."
A medical helicopter, two in fact, was waiting on the deck of Ohio 7 to transport both the girl and the male driver to a Pittsburgh-area medical hospital.
Regis estimated it took a total of 75-80 minutes from first arriving on the scene until the girl was airborne and headed to the hospital because of the extent of the damage to the vehicle and how she was situated in the vehicle.
He also noted the bravery of that little girl.
"She was conscious," Regis said. "She was awake and talking to us. I don't think I ever saw a tear in her eye the entire time.
"With everything that went through, she was a brave little girl.
"We all have our fingers crossed for them right now and hopefully, when this is all over, they can walk away with a 100 percent positive outcome."
The rescue seemingly was just as stressful for emergency responders as it was for the passengers.
Crews are trained to handle all manner of scenarios that they might come across.
A terrible accident immediately gets the adrenaline pumping and heightens the sense of urgency. Then, factor in the age of the girl to the equation.
"Everything was working against us," Regis said. "The amount of damage, where she was trapped, how she was trapped.
"Any time you have a child, the stress level increases. Most of the guys down there have children, or nieces and nephews, and they probably went home and hugged them a little tighter (Monday) night.
"They all did an excellent job. It made myself and (Assistant Chief) Mike (Reese) very proud."
Regis commended the cooperation of all departments involved, including emergency crews from Brookside, Bridgeport and Neffs Fire Departments, along with Ohio State Highway Patrol and Martins Ferry PD.
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