An Oklahoma City man who was trapped in his tractor-trailer rig for an hour as it hung over the edge of the Interstate 40 bridge downtown following a wreck said Monday he was terrified as emergency personnel worked to free him.
Russell Bentley, 40, was hauling a load of gravel in the middle lane of I-40 westbound as it passes through downtown Oklahoma City when a pickup towing a trailer swerved in front of him.
“The exit for I-35 south started backing up a little bit, and that pickup jumped right out in front of me,” Bentley said. “I hit the trailer, it blew out one of my tires and I went into the concrete barrier.”
Bentley, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown into the sleeper compartment of the
“I looked out the passenger window, and there was a 100-foot drop to the ground,” Bentley said. “I saw my hard hat down there, and I freaked out. There were a lot of cuss words going through my mind.”
His immediate reaction was to escape, but that wasn't possible.
“The driver's side window, I couldn't break it, and I couldn't open the door,” Bentley said.
An off-duty firefighter witnessed the crash and quickly came to Bentley's aid. Emergency crews also arrived, but they wanted to secure the truck with chains before attempting to get him out to prevent the truck from tipping over the side of the bridge.
“I really wanted out of there,” Bentley said. “When the traffic goes by, that bridge, she shakes pretty good. I did not want to be in that truck.”
It was about an hour before firefighters put a safety harness on Bentley and got him out of the truck. He said emergency crews “did a damn good job.”
Bentley was taken to a hospital where he was treated for minor scrapes and bruises.
“That is by far the worst wreck I've been in,” Bentley said. “I'm back to driving today, but it's not the same. You are pretty skittish. You see a car moving or someone doesn't signal, you really start paying attention to them.”