Clearcreek Twp. crew honored for saving tanker driver in fiery crash

Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2019 @ 10:15 AM

The Clearcreek Fire District crew that saved a trucker trapped in the fiery wreckage of his semitrailer on U.S. 42 were honored Tuesday night.

The Clearcreek Fire District crew that saved a trucker trapped in the fiery wreckage of his semitrailer on U.S. 42 in late October were honored Tuesday night for the valor they displayed in reacting at a scene their chief said looked like something you'd see on TV.

RELATED: Firefighters cut driver from flaming tanker 

Jeffrey Miller, of Union, Ohio, was left hanging upside down in the cab of his semitrailer that crashed when he drove off the road just north of Township Line Road the morning of Oct. 20, the state patrol said. Miller's rig was pulling a tanker of fuel. It was burning and phone lines were down -- power lines were across the street -- when the first Clearcreek Twp. Fire and EMS crews arrived. 

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"[Miller] was pinned between his seat and the steering wheel," Fire District Capt. Kent Clary told News Center 7's Sean Cudahy on Tuesday night. 

Clary said the door had to be removed and the seat had to be moved up. The race was against time because the the tanker, carrying more than 6,000 gallons of gasoline when it rolled onto its side -- was on fire and could explode at any moment. 

Flames were directly behind the cab, Clary recalled, noting the first responders on scene were working to get Miller out without the use of a hose line to wet down the vehicle. 

Clary, who was coordinating the rescue effort that ended with Miller suffering only minor injuries, said it was difficult to watch but all the training paid off. 

The crash. The wires. The flames. The gasoline. The rescue. "All the bad stuff coming together at one time," Clary said. It was "A once in a lifetime kind of call." 

One of the state patrol dispatchers said the first responders got Miller out just in time.

Miller, there to witness the ceremony, fulfilled his wish "to thank every one of you guys again for your time, and I appreciate you guys helping me out." 

Chief Steve Agenbroad honored his crews with awards, including the Medal of Valor -- the department's highest honor -- for several of the firefighters. 

Clary said it's nice to be recognized for the risks fire and rescue personnel take. 

"With a human life to save... We had to take every risk we could to save his life."