18-wheeler crashes into house, tree

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 18, 2002

After striking a utility pole and sideswiping a house before pounding into a tree, the driver of an 18-wheeler is being called a &uot;blessed man&uot; by those who witnessed the accident’s aftermath Thursday evening.

&uot;It’s amazing that he (the driver) wasn’t crushed where he was sitting,&uot; said Betty Brinegar, a resident who lives on an adjoining parcel from where the accident occurred. &uot;The Lord was with him.&uot;

Ronald Sawyer, of North Carolina, was operating the tractor-trailer around 4:45 p.m. Thursday when it veered off the road and hit the pole, causing the truck to smash into the residential property at 3769 Carolina Road, Suffolk. Sawyer is the vehicle’s owner.

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Suffolk Fire Department Battalion Chief L.E. Taylor stated at the scene that the accident’s cause is unknown, and the driver did not appear to have life-threatening injuries. Sawyer was transported to Obici Hospital where he remained in the emergency room later in the evening. Sawyer’s condition was listed as stable Thursday night, said hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Clark.

Suffolk Police are investigating the accident.

Officials had no luck in contacting the homeowners as of late Thursday. Surrounded by horses and wide-open fields, neighbors of the quiet community were shocked to hear what sounded like an explosion, recalled Crystal Brown. Brown and her mother, Brinegar, and a sister each have a home on the acreage that circles the rear of the two-story brick house, where the 18-wheeler rested.

The flatbed truck’s front end was barely recognizable with its nose planted into the tree, engine exposed, and passenger side crushed.

Only the driver’s side remained somewhat intact, as detached bricks made a scattered path from the rear of the truck across the backyard. The truck also ripped off part of the garage door in the process of plowing across the yard.

Brown said the driver was moving and talking after the accident, and, &uot;He was very concerned that he hurt someone.&uot; Brown added that she noticed a cut on Sawyer’s forehead and on the eye, and that she was able to calm him down prior to paramedics arriving.

Route 32 is a major thoroughfare to and from North Carolina, generating excessive levels of 18-wheeler traffic. &uot;There are a lot of tractor trailers going through here,&uot; said Brinegar.

Both Brinegar and Brown stated that they are thankful that the driver appears to have made it out safely, and that neither the homeowners nor adjoining residents were injured.

Upon draining fuel from the tractor-trailer, Chips Repair and Towing Company was expected be on site about two hours clearing the debris and removing the truck.

The downed utility pole also put approximately 50 residents in the dark, and Community Electric anticipated restoring power within an hour last night.