Trooper says "divine intervention" may have helped save FedEx driver's life

Posted at 4:28 PM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-11 23:35:56-05

The two men who helped rescue a FedEx driver from Thursday morning's fiery wreck on I-35 near exit 300 in Temple cannot believe the driver survived.

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper D.L. Wilson and Robert Sneed, who came to Wilson's aid, helped driver Wallace Altom of Georgetown get away from the 18-wheeler's burning cab.

The FedEx truck jackknifed, crashed into concrete barriers, and then exploded around 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

"It was instantaneously. It happened just...boom. I mean, he backed into the concrete wall and it exploded. It was like a bomb going off," Wilson said. "I was in shock. I've done this for over 26 years for my total law enforcement, and I've never seen anything like this. You see videos on TV or car cams or something like this, but this was an experience I was shocked to see."

At one point, Wilson wasn't sure if the driver was still alive.

"I couldn't see the driver. I couldn't see anybody. There's no way he could survive this crash. It was not a survivable crash," Wilson said.

Sneed was getting ready for work at his home nearby when he heard tires squealing and a loud boom. He got in his Jeep, drove through a construction zone, and even climbed over a small wall to help.

"I'd seen basically a ball of fire. The cab was indistinguishable. You couldn't see a tractor trailer there. The trailer was there, but the tractor portion of the vehicle was a burning pile of steel," Sneed said.

Wilson still couldn't find the driver, but something told him to check one last time.

"I ran back around through the smoke and looked over the concrete wall and, from disbelief, there's a gentleman, the driver, crawling on his belly out from underneath the flames," he said. "I think it's divine intervention. Unfortunately, [the driver] said he lost his sister about seven days ago in a car crash. I said, 'It might have been your sister who pulled you out of this fire.'"

Sneed, who works at a collision shop, says he's seen a lot of wrecks, but they were nothing compared to the one he saw Thursday morning.

"I think the lasting memory will be just knowing that in such a terrible circumstance somebody could survive such a traumatic car accident like that. I have no explanation for how he lived," he said.

Altom is now recovering from his injuries at a burn center in San Antonio.

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