Firefighters share difficulties of Blount Co. fatal crash

11:36 PM, Jun 11, 2013   |    comments
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Firefighters on the scene on the scene of Monday night's fatal crash say it's hard to believe anyone survived.

Matthew Dixon, 25, died before crews arrived to the scene of the accident on Highway 321 in the Blount County community of Friendsville. But four others were trapped for more than an hour in a van. A collision with a dump truck left them pinned in a ditch.

But five people did survive thanks to efforts of about 60 emergency workers from four different agencies.

As of Tuesday night, one of the van's passengers, Merrily Dixon, and the driver, James Click, remained in critical condition at UT Medical Center. Another passenger, Lauren Lynott, had been discharged from the hospital. The driver of the dump truck, Kevin Weese, was also discharged.

The scene of the mangled van crushed beneath the dump truck was something that took even those with decades of experience off guard.

"I've been in the fire service 33 years, it was one of the worst wrecks I've seen in my career," said Maryville Fire Department's deputy chief, David Hodges.

"It was really like no other. It's hard to train for that," said Friendsville volunteer firefighter and full-time Alcoa firefighter, Shane Rogers.

Rogers, who helped pull the passengers out to safety, said you couldn't see from the outside that people were trapped inside.

"Every move you make whenever a car is compromised like that, could critically hurt someone else. If you move it to help one patient, it could also in turn hurt another patient," Rogers said.

"We used the jaws of life, air bags, cribbing, anything involved in extrication was done last night on that scene," said Hodges.

Nearly 60 emergency workers from four different agencies worked for an hour and a half to pull them out one by one.

Both Rogers and Hodges said it was teamwork that helped them to get the victims out.

"Once the last patient got out, it was a huge relief for all of us.  We knew we had done our job. We did it to the best we absolutely could," Rogers said.

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