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SOMERSET TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) — A former firefighter stopped to help when he witnessed a tractor trailer and a car go over an embankment in Washington County on Saturday.
It happened on I-70 in Somerset Township around 5:15 p.m. State police say the roadways were covered with snow from a sudden winter storm at the time.
According to state police, a Lincoln-Continental town car and a tractor trailer were traveling westbound in the left lane of I-70. Both vehicles were going about 60 mph.
The driver of the town car reportedly lost control of the vehicle and struck a concrete barrier, causing the vehicle to spin out into the road. The tractor trailer then struck the car on its passenger side.
Both the car and the tractor trailer went off the road, crashed through a guide rail and went down an embankment into a ditch. The tractor trailer flipped over onto its passenger side in the crash.
Michael Utchel was on the road behind the vehicles at the time of the crash. He pulled over and ran down the embankment as his wife called 911.
“I stayed with the people in the white sedan. I was able to get the mother out of the back seat. She had the door open. I pulled her up the embankment and then she said she had a 15-month-old in the back in the car seat, so I went down and was able to free the child,” Utchel said.
With the 15-month-old safe in his warm car, Utchel said another person climbed on the roof of the tractor trailer to talk to that driver. Miraculously, he was OK.
Utchel then began prying open the white car’s doors.
“The front two passengers were trapped in. The passenger couldn’t move at all. I ended up cutting the seat belt off to try to free him up a little bit because he was locked in place,” he said.
That’s when more than a dozen first responders showed up, working to get all the victims up the embankment and into ambulances.
Utchel says he always stops to help.
“I was a firefighter for about 14 years and I’ve been in law enforcement my whole life, so I’ve had a lot of training,” he said.
All four people who were in the town car were taken to a local hospital with suspected minor injuries.
The tractor trailer driver was not injured.
State Police say PennDOT was notified of the crash. The Department of Agriculture was also notified because the tractor trailer was hauling oranges.