An accident on Highway 95, Aug. 2, that resulted in one fatality and two people severely injured is still under investigation, according to Idaho State Police.
Danny Moore, 49, and Walter Chappell, 53, both of St. Maries, were released from Gritman Medical Center and Kootenai Medical Center respectively.
The accident occurred Aug. 2, at approximately 11:45 a.m. on Highway 95, mile marker 378, south of DeSmet near Sheep Creek Road. The highway was closed in both directions for at least four hours.
According to Idaho State Police, a white pickup truck traveling south on Highway 95, crossed the center line and collided with a northbound tractor-trailer.
Witnesses said that the driver of the pickup was driving erratically, and it was unclear why the driver crossed the center line.
“He wasn’t driving really good,” witness Phillip Hagan said. “I’m pretty sure there wasn’t anyone for them to pass.”
Mr. Moore and Mr. Chappell were in the tractor-trailer.
The driver of the pickup was pronounced dead at the scene and transported to a Coeur d’Alene funeral home. Their identity has not been released by state police.
Mr. Hagan said that both vehicles left the road and caught fire shortly after.
“We heard two explosions, first all the tires went and then the white truck and the semi, both tanks exploded in pretty rapid succession,” Mr. Hagan said.
The accident ignited an enclosed field and grass on both sides of the highway.
Mr. Hagan’s wife, Jennifer Nelson, a nurse, was the first medical responder on the scene. They were traveling approximately 100 meters behind the white pickup, immediately prior to the accident, according to Mr. Hagan.
“We were behind the white truck. I was the first on the scene providing first aid. The truck hit the semi. The truck left the ground and went off the side. I tried to get him out, but it got too hot,” Ms. Nelson said. “I tried and tried but the flames were too much. There was no way I was getting that door open without the jaws of life.”
Unable to extricate the driver of the pickup truck, Ms. Nelson and her husband went to the tractor-trailer that left the road on the opposite side.
“We went to the semi and got them out through the gas and oil,” she said. “I had them wrapped up and just tried to keep them out of shock.”
Both vehicles were completely engulfed in flames.
Bystanders attempted to use a fire extinguisher on the tractor-trailer, but it may have exacerbated the fire.
“The extinguisher didn’t help,” Ms. Nelson said. “It kind of blew the fire into the cab.”
Fire extinguishers with a Class B rating are considered effective against flammable liquid fires including gasoline fires. The rating of the extinguisher used at the scene is unknown.
Mr. Moore was transported to the Gritman Medical Center by ambulance. Mr. Chappell was flown to Kootenai Medical Center.
A third vehicle was struck by debris and appeared to be covered in fuel. The driver, Ashley Warren, was unharmed.
“I’m fine,” she said. “It’s a miracle, if the semi did not go off [the road] I probably would have been pretty messed up.”
Ms. Warren credited Ms. Nelson with doing everything she could to aid the victims.
“She was amazing,” Ms. Warren said.
Two other medical professionals also happened upon the scene after Ms. Nelson. They were no longer on scene after emergency services arrived.
Idaho State Police said they will release the name of the driver once the investigation is concluded. They did not provide a timeline for the investigation.