Good Samaritans pulled driver from wreckage seconds before massive fuel tanker explosion

Monday, June 3, 2024
Good Samaritans pulled driver from wreckage seconds before massive fuel tanker explosion
The majority of southbound main lanes of I-45 North Freeway near Tidwell are open Sunday evening after a tanker truck fire shut down all lanes.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Two men were taken to the hospital after a fuel tanker exploded, shutting down all southbound lanes of the North Freeway near Tidwell Road, and the feeder road, for more than twenty hours.

According to Houston police, a speeding driver crashed into an 18-wheeler transporting fuel, causing it to fishtail and flip over at about 10 p.m. Saturday.

Armin Franco was standing in a neighbor's yard about a block away when he heard the initial impact. He told ABC13 he ran to help with two other strangers, and said the truck was still rolling as they approached.

Franco said the truck's driver got out of the vehicle and began to run. According to Houston Police the driver climbed out of his windshield and immediately notified first responders that his vehicle may explode.

Franco, an immigrant from Belize, and the two other good samaritans found the driver of the car bloodied, unconscious, and trapped.

"His feet were stuck in something, so I pushed him with my whole body," he said.

Seconds after the men pried him from the wreckage, the tanker exploded, Franco said. The force knocked them back.

"We just [felt] something just blow us," he said. "Like the wind, it hurts really hard."

The heat was so intense the men had to move the unconscious driver a second time.

A TxDOT spokesperson told ABC13 the flames even damaged concrete on the freeway.

The damaged concrete combined with the necessary hazmat clean-up after fuel poured onto the road, entirely shutdown that section of the freeway and feeder road until 5 p.m. on Sunday.

According to Houston Police, the driver Franco assisted remained in critical condition Sunday.

"Maybe one day it [could] happen to me. Thats why I [ran] to help the guy," Franco said.