Driver freed from overturned tractor-trailer
After nearly two hours trapped inside the cab of his tractor trailer, Elmer Cook, 47, of Morganton, was freed Friday following a single-vehicle crash on U.S. 801 not far from Centenary Church Road in Mount Ulla, near the Iredell County line.
Rescuers had to use the Jaws of Life to remove Cook from the cab. He was pinned in by his steering wheel.
N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper C.J. Doty said Cook was traveling south on U.S. 801, in the western part of the county, to deliver a load of paper to a Mooresville business when he ran off the road around 11:25 a.m. and down an embankment. The cab hit a tree, split open and the load in the tractor overturned onto its side.
Cook was hauling five large rolls of paper, each weighing 6,000 pounds a piece, Doty said.
He said it was unclear if the load shifted, causing the truck to leave the road and overturn.
Cook was complaining of shoulder and head pain and he has a possible hip fracture. He was taken to Lake Norman Regional Medical Center in Mooresville.
It took multiple fire and rescue teams a longer time to free Cook because of the temperatures, said West Rowan Assistant Fire Chief Andy Russell. Russell, who was incident commander, said rescue teams had to switch out because of the heat and a crane was used to lift and stabilize the cab.
The temperature at the height of the crash was in the high 70s, but the heat index was around 86 degrees.
The following agencies aided in the rescue: West Rowan Volunteer Fire, West Rowan Rescue, Locke Fire, Rowan Rescue Squad, Shepherds Volunteer Fire, Atwell Fire, Mooresville Fire and Mooresville Rescue.
Cook was wearing a seat belt. He was cited for driving left of center. The trooper also believes speed was a factor in the crash. Cook is with Stephen Craig Transport Inc., of Hickory.