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Miami U. professor saves truck driver from flaming cab

A passing driver is being credited with saving the life of a truck driver who crashed on northbound I-75 Monday afternoon and rolled his semi-trailer into on-coming lanes.

Richard Wetzel, 61, is a volunteer firefighter with Sugarcreek Twp. who stopped and helped the Dayton driver whose semi then burst into flames around 2:40 p.m.

According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, the semi driver is 50-year-old Scott Howard. He reportedly drove his 2005 Freightliner off the left side of the northbound lanes of 75, struck the concrete median barrier, causing the cab and trailer to burst into flames and over turn into the southbound lanes. Wetzel was able to get Howard out of the truck cab before flames engulfed it.

Wetzel described seeing the cab of the truck hit the concrete wall, and slide. Then, he watched the trailer jump the wall to the other side of the interstate.

"The cab was already on fire prior to the vehicle stopped sliding," said Wetzel.

Wetzel works at Miami University-Hamilton as a professor of Kinesiology.

"As I got, probably 3 or 4 feet away from the windshield, I saw the passenger side of the cab start to pop up a little bit, and I knew that somebody was trying to get out," he said.

Wetzel was not injured. Howard was taken to Atrium Medical Center suffering from minor injuries, according to the patrol.

The four-vehicle accident shut down the interstate -- in both directions -- for several hours.

The overturned trailer struck a vehicle driven by Nick Smallwood, 28, of Franklin, who was headed south on 75. Smallwood was treated at West Chester Hospital and released.

Trevor Lutterbie, 18, of the Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash, swerved to avoid a collision while headed south on the interstate and was struck by a vehicle being driven by Stephen Roudebush, 28, of Springboro.

Neither Lutterbie nor Roudebush was injured, according to the patrol.

"I think it's really important to know that Scott, the driver, made it home," said Wetzel the day after the fiery crash. "To know that the other two truck drivers stopped and helped stop traffic," Wetzel said.

"For me, it's the feeling that everyone was safe and everyone got to go home in one piece and everybody got to be with their family. That's the important aspect."

Witnesses to the crash are asked to contact Trooper Rebecca Robinson, of the Hamilton patrol post, at 513-863-4608.

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