Fire Department Looks Back on Daring Rescue After Pepsi Truck Skids Off Freeway

The San Bernardino County Fire Department Team had a hard task to achieve when they arrived on the scene Jan. 9.

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The fire department crew knew it had a tough task when a Pepsi truck skidded off an overpass of the 15 freeway at Cherry Avenue and over the K-rail, crushing metal and spilling soda everywhere, and trapping the river underneath the hood.

“As soon as we got there, we saw the Pepsi truck slipped over on its side,” said Randy Wormdahl, an engineer for the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

“There was a lot of spilled product, Pepsi, different kind of sodas that made it possibly muddy,” Wormdahl said.

The firefighters were afraid the rig might slip.

“The first thing you want to do when there is a vehicle on its side or not on its wheels [is to be] checking for stability,” Wormdahl said.

Rescuers assessed the situation and came up with a plan to secure the truck to a tree.

“Fortunately, we were able to wrap a chain around the axle to keep it stationary so we could access the victim and cut our way in,” Wormdahl said.

The top of the cab was completely crushed with the driver inside, and it was shoved right up against the concrete of the overpass.

“It was a really narrow access space and there was also a chain link fence that was in between us and the truck,” Wormdahl said. “...Our number one goal was to free him and get him out because how he was trapped was pinching off blood supply to his lower leg."

Firefighters had to use the jaws of life (specialized hydraulic rescue tools) to cut through the metal.

“I was happy he was in as good a condition as he was when we got him out,” said Capt. Kyle Hauducoeur of San Bernardino County Fire Department. “I can’t be more proud of my guys that they were able to help.”

“It's an awesome feeling but none of us here feel like heroes,” Wormdahl said. “We honestly feel like we are doing our job.”

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