Injured driver possibly trapped for up to 12 hours after I-89 crash

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 12:03 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Vt. (WCAX) - A Burlington man was hospitalized with critical injuries Thursday morning after crashing on I-89 and getting stuck in his car for upwards of 12 hours, according to EMS officials.

Authorities say they were initially alerted to the crash around 8 a.m. Thursday morning but could not find the car. “Where the vehicle had gone off the road was very, very difficult to see from the roadway. If you were in a sedan or a passenger car, it would be almost impossible to see that a vehicle had gone off the road,” said Williston Fire Capt. Prescott Nadeau.

Then, 90 minutes later, Jon Pickering drove by. “I was driving down I-89 south, down French Hill, and I just happened to catch a glimpse of that car off the side of the road there, about 40 over the embankment,” Pickering said. The truck driver also used to be a firefighter in Hinesburg so he knew to call it in right away.

Authorities later identified the driver of the car as 27-year-old Dakota Rockwell of Burlington. They think he crashed around 9 p.m. Wednesday night. They say he was not wearing a seatbelt and that due to his injuries he couldn’t get out of the car on his own.

A man was hospitalized Thursday morning with serious injuries after crashing on I-89 and stuck...
A man was hospitalized Thursday morning with serious injuries after crashing on I-89 and stuck in his car for hours.(WCAX)

Nadeau says the area is notorious for serious crashes. “The Williston Fire Department has responded to numerous crashes over the past number of years, some of them fatal. Folks often travel at an excessive rate of speed on French Hill, down French Hill,” he said. Nadeau says if Pickering didn’t spot the wreck, things could have been much worse. “The injuries sustained by the person who was driving the vehicle would have equated to a much more serious situation if he didn’t receive EMS care when he did. So, the individual who made that 911 call to summon EMS and police to the scene saved this man’s life.”

“I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t consider myself a hero by far, it’s just in my blood,” Pickering said.

Nadeau says if you come across a crash, or even debris on the road, call it in. You could save someone’s life, too.

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