Tanker Driver Recounts ‘Heroic’ Rescue From Blazing Inferno
Harrodsburg, Kentucky – Earlier this May tanker driver Doug Bowling was pulled from his burning semi after a crash at the intersection of KY 150 and KY 70 in Rockcastle County. The truck was hauling 8,000 gallons of gasoline when it collided with a car. The tank ruptured and erupted into a blazing inferno. As smoke began pouring into the cab, Bowling admits he was in a fight for his life. He suffered a punctured lung and five broken ribs. Worse yet was the fact his leg was pinned and Bowling could not extricate himself from the vehicle. As the seconds ticked away and death seemed inevitable, Bowling says three good samaritans arrived on the scene. They began doing all they could to get Bowling out alive. “I was glad they showed up when they did,” Bowling told WKYT news.
One of the men, Rockcastle County, Kentucky, resident Sam Hamilton, told WKYT news in an interview after the accident, “They were yelling and screaming, trying to get something to pry the guy out because the trailer was on fire already. I mean the diesel was just blazing,” he said. Hamilton ran to a nearby farm store and grabbed some fenceposts to help pry Bowling from the cab of the truck. That’s when Army serviceman, Sgt. 1st Class Mario King did something Bowling and the others on the scene, will never forget. King actually crawled through the fire and smoke into the cab with Bowling. “He grabbed me by the arms and went to dragging me out of the truck, and as soon as he about got me almost out of the windshield, the other two guys grabbed my other arm and here we went,” Bowling recalled.
Hamilton says King’s actions were nothing short of heroic. “That guy [King] is amazing. He wasn’t leaving without him. I hope if I was the guy in the truck someone would do the same for me,” Hamilton said.
Today, Bowling will come face to face with his rescuers for the first time since the crash. A special ceremony is being held in Mount Vernon, Kentucky, to honor the bravery of these men. “I need to thank them,” Bowling said. “Not too many people would go to a burning tanker to help you.” Bowling also plans to be in attendance at a special ceremony in Fort Knox when Sgt. 1st Class King will be honored with the Soldier’s Medal for his heroism. It is the highest peacetime medal a soldier can be awarded.
As for Bowling, he’s back to doing what he loves… driving a truck. He has a new truck and has been back on the job since July. When asked if his near death experience caused him to reconsider his career as a trucker, Bowling was emphatic. “No, I go by there every day. Went by there four times today. I think about it but it don’t bother me,” he said.