Collier Deputy Rescues Driver In Fiery Crash
Collier County Sheriff's Office
An off-duty Collier County Sheriff’s Office Corrections deputy rescued the driver of a semi-truck during a fiery crash on Interstate 75 in October.
Cpl. Joshua Hankinson, who works in the Collier County jail, will be nominated for a Medal of Distinguished Service for his efforts on Oct. 23. The award honors a CCSO deputy who “distinguishes himself in the performance of an act of courage involving probable risk of personal injury for the purpose of saving or protecting human life.”
Cpl. Hankinson had left work for the day and was traveling north on I-75 in Charlotte County about 7:15 a.m. when he drove over the raised overpass at exit 167 and spotted a collision involving two semi-trucks southbound at mile marker 166.
The semi with the worst damage had slid to a stop in the median facing the guardrail. Cpl. Hankinson said he immediately pulled over and went to check on the driver. He could see the driver moving around in the cab. He could also smell a heavy odor of diesel fuel due to fluids leaking from the truck.
He said he forcefully opened the driver door and instructed the driver to get out of the vehicle. But the driver didn’t respond and appeared disoriented.
“When I realized he may not understand or was in a state of shock, I reached over him and unbuckled his seat belt,” Cpl. Hankinson recalled. “Pulling on his shirt and left arm I was able to assist him out of the cab of the truck.’’
The situation got more intense.
“As I guided him to a safe distance, about 50 feet, the truck became engulfed in flames and a few loud explosions occurred,” Cpl. Hankinson recalled.
About this time the first Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office deputy arrived and blocked the roadway for safety. Cpl. Hankinson, who was still dressed in his Corrections uniform, said he stepped aside and let first responders handle the scene, which he described as “very chaotic.”
Nobody was injured in the crash, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Cpl. Hankinson said he received a few minor abrasions on his hands.
He said FHP troopers thanked him for his assistance and told him he could leave the scene.
“So I quietly drove home,” he said.
He briefly shared his experience on Facebook, along with a couple of photos he snapped of the burning semi. He said he’s surprised by the positive attention his post received.
“I do not feel I did anything above what any person with a heart would have done in the same situation,” Cpl. Hankinson said. “It was just simply, in my mind, a moment in time where I made a decision to do what is right in the world.
Photo by Cpl. Joshua Hankinson/CCSO