FORT WORTH -- A 25-year-old Fort Worth man was under guard Thursday at John Peter Smith Hospital after police accused him of causing a dramatic crash on Interstate 20 by pulling in front of a tanker truck.
Nicholas Colon, 25, and his wife were pinned beneath the empty water truck for three hours before firefighters could extricate them.
The cab of the 18-wheeler broke through a retaining wall and dangled about 100 feet off the ground, forcing firefighters to rappel out to reach the driver.
Colon was taken into custody at JPS Hospital on suspicion of DWI and unlawfully carrying a weapon, said Sgt. Pedro Criado, a Fort Worth police spokesman.
Police said the wreck occurred about 4 a.m. on a ramp leading from westbound Interstate 20 (Southeast Loop 820) to southbound Interstate 35W. Colon, driving a Honda, had pulled over and stopped against the left retaining wall, but pulled out and was hit by the truck, driven by Johnathan DeWayne Willard, 25.
Willard was in the cab for about an hour until firefighters could rig a harness on a ladder truck to reach him, said T.W. Hatch, technical rescue chief for the Fort Worth Fire Department.
The crash crushed the top of the Honda. Firefighters stabilized the tanker using chains from a heavy-duty wrecker and wooden blocks, allowing rescue workers to crawl to the car.
They used hydraulic cutters to open the passenger side and pulled Colon and his wife, Amy Howell, 26, to safety, Hatch said.
The couple's injuries were not life-threatening. Willard was treated at the scene, MedStar spokeswoman Suzy Miller said.
"Given the situation, I was relatively surprised that everyone was in good shape," Hatch said.
The force of the crash punched a 13-foot hole in the concrete retaining wall, said Val Lopez, a spokesman for the Texas Transportation Department.
Bridge inspectors determined that the columns and bridge deck were not damaged and declared the ramp structurally sound, Lopez said.
The ramp will be closed from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday to repair the wall, Lopez said.
The tanker is owned by Shale Tank Truck, a Texas-based oil field services company. The company released a statement thanking the Fire Department for the rescue but offered no other information.
In August 2006, Colon was convicted of driving while intoxicated in Dallas County and received 18 months' probation.
Chance Welch, 817-390-7684