Magazine article Corrections Today

Correctional Officer and Inmates Rescue Truck Driver from Fiery Collision

Magazine article Corrections Today

Correctional Officer and Inmates Rescue Truck Driver from Fiery Collision

Article excerpt

Returning from a work detail late in the afternoon last November with five inmates assigned to the Department of Transportation work squad, Correctional Officer Jeffrey Hunnicut of the Marion Correctional Institution in Florida, came upon a fiery wreck in the middle of Ocala National Forest.

The head-on collision of an 18-wheel tractor-trailer and a Lincoln Continental was blocking the two-lane state road. Unable to get a cell phone signal in such a remote location or call for help using his work radio, Hunnicut, 33, knew he had to act immediately if the accident victims were to be saved. So, the 11-year corrections veteran and his inmate crew ran over to the truck, which was engulfed in flames caused by the diesel spill. "I just knew I had to do something at that point," Hunnicut said. "We really didn't have too much time to think; it just happened."

Hunnicut put out the fire in the fuel tank using the two fire extinguishers he had on his work truck and, with the help of the inmates, pulled the truck driver out of the tractor-trailer. Although in shock and suffering from injuries, the truck driver survived as a result of their self-less and quick actions.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

After moving the truck driver to a location at a safe distance from the automobile, which was also on fire, Hunnicut and the inmates approached the car to see if the driver was alive. Finding that the 76-year-old man was already dead, Hunnicut and the inmates tried to extinguish the car fire to keep it from spreading. During their efforts to put out the fire, they heard screaming from the passenger side of the vehicle: "Help me, I'm on fire. Please God, help me I'm burning to death." The injured passenger, who was not immediately visible through the fire and thick smoke, was trapped and in danger of being completely engulfed by the flames. …

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