FORT WORTH – A 25-year-old Fort Worth man was under guard at John Peter Smith Hospital on Thursday after police say he caused 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 careened over a retaining wall and was hanging about 100 feet high, forcing firefighters to rappel out to reach the driver.
Colon was taken into custody at JPS Hospital for suspicion of DWI and unlawfully carrying a weapon, Fort Worth police spokesman Pedro Criado said.
Police said the Honda was stopped on the left shoulder of I-20 near the ramp leading from westbound I-20 to southbound I-35W shortly before 4 a.m. when Colon pulled out and was hit by the truck, driven by Johnathan DeWayne Willard, 25.
Willard was trapped in the cab for about an hour until Fort Worth 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 beneath. They used hydraulic cutters to open the passenger side of the car and pulled Colon and his wife, Amy Howell, 26, to safety, Hatch said.
The injuries suffered by Colon and Howell were not life-threatening. Willard was treated and released at the scene, MedStar spokeswoman Suzy Miller said.
“Given the situation, I was relatively surprised that everyone was in good shape,” Hatch said.
Colon was convicted of driving while intoxicated after an arrest in Dallas in August 2006 and received 18 months probation, according to Dallas County court records.
The force of the crash punched a 13-foot hole in the concrete retaining wall, said Val Lopez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation.
Bridge inspectors determined that the columns and bridge deck were not damaged and declared the ramp structurally sound, Lopez said.
The ramp is scheduled to be closed from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday for repairs, Lopez said.
The tanker is owned by Shale Tank Truck, a Texas-based oilfield services company. The company released a statement thanking the Fire Department for the rescue but offered no other information.