Driver after driver whizzed by as the woman screamed into the darkness, hidden from view by the car that had crushed her fingers.
She’d pulled over on a rural interstate highway to change a tire, officials said, when suddenly the jack slipped. The vehicle with the spare tire came crashing down on both her hands. She was trapped, alone and in agony.
It took her more than a half-hour, but she managed to slip off a shoe – and dialed 911 with her toes. Finally, her screams were heard.
The 54-year-old woman was remarkably calm when authorities arrived on the pitch-black South Carolina roadside, Colleton County Fire-Rescue Chief Barry McRoy told The Washington Post. The harrowing rescue from Sunday evening would leave fire officials marveling at her presence of mind.
“I can’t imagine what she was going through,” McRoy said. “She was pretty levelheaded to make that happen.”
The woman, whom authorities are not naming, was on her way home from Florida to Charlotte, North Carolina he said.
A battalion chief from Colleton County Fire-Rescue tried using his knife to deflate the tire – but the car just dropped with it, according to authorities. Working with a pry bar, officials got one hand out.
By the time the other mangled hand got free thanks to a hydraulic spreader, the woman had been stuck for 45 minutes by the woods, fire officials said.
The woman was relieved, McRoy said, but her hands were badly bruised and bleeding. She couldn’t move her fingers. He doesn’t know the results of X-rays, but he assumes there were broken bones.
She got pain medication on the spot and was transported to the closest trauma center, McRoy said. He does not know the woman’s current condition.
He said he’s never encountered anything quite like Sunday’s emergency or the quick thinking that alerted authorities.
“It was pretty innovative,” he said.
(c) 2020, The Washington Post · Hannah Knowles