Bay Area Traffic

Woman drags truck driver to safety after fiery crash

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Hero who pulled man from truck accident in San Francisco tanker truck fire in San Francisco

A major tanker truck crash in San Francisco closed Highway 101 for the entire morning, causing a traffic nightmare.

The driver of the tanker truck is alive today because a Good Samaritan stopped to save him.

Just after 5 a.m. Wednesday, emergency crews responded to a tanker truck on fire. The truck was blocking the entire southbound section of Highway 101 near Hospital Curve.

Keenia Williams, 22, saw the incident play out in her rear-view mirror. Williams said the crash started when a black car behind her lost control.

"A white car behind it hit it," Williams said, "then I guess the truck tried to stop, but he too rammed into it too."

Williams had her five-year-old daughter in the car, but decided to stop to help. That's when she saw the driver of the car struggling.

"He's standing between the fire, he passes out, so now I'm like 'Oh my God, oh my God,'" Williams said. "My first instinct is to run over there and I tried my best. I put my arms under his arms, and I dragged him all the way to my car."

Williams dragged 52-year-old Michael Finerty 200 feet to her car. While he was still unconscious, Williams placed a towel and coat over Finerty.

Fire department officials say Williams was instrumental in saving Finerty's life because she was the only person on the south-side of the accident.

"She made all the difference in the world," said Tom Siragusa with the San Francisco Fire Department. "The truck driver was on the ground on the other side of the fire, so from our approach we would have had to extinguish the fire and (we) probably would not have seen him on the ground if no one else had stopped."

The driver was sent to the hospital but has since been released. Two other people involved in the accident were not injured.

All southbound traffic was stopped causing major delays during the morning commute.

"I have to go to the airport," one commuter said. "Hopefully it won't be too bad."

By noon, all lanes were reopened after a Caltrans inspection.

Williams and the driver of the truck involved in Wednesday's accident are expected to be reunited soon.

"I think I watch too much TV," Williams said. "I see too many people who don't do something. Most people would have kept going; I don't know what made me stop. I'm glad I did."

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Tags:
highway 101, I-80, bay area traffic, lyanne melendez
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