Trucker Miraculously Saved from Fiery Tanker Crash Sadly Succumbs to Injuries
Indianapolis, IN – The trucker involved in a fiery tanker accident along Interstate 70 last month sadly passed away on Saturday morning from injuries sustained in the crash.
The accident made headlines when two good Samaritans — including a fellow trucker and a woman who had given birth just three days prior — pulled the tanker driver from the blaze in attempts to save his life.
According to fire and emergency teams in Indianapolis, the accident occurred shortly before 2 p.m. on Thursday, February 20, on I-70, near I-465 on the east side of the city.
Officials said the truck — which was hauling 4,000 lbs. of jet fuel — was exiting I-465 South onto I-70 East when the driver lost control of the rig and overturned.
The single-vehicle crash sent jet fuel pouring down the ramp and igniting, causing “multiple” explosions, according to the Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD).
Witnesses at the scene said they saw the driver, 59-year-old Jeffrey Denman of Brownsburg, IN, on fire following the crash.
A preliminary investigation indicated speed was believed to be a factor in the incident.
Billows of smoke could be seen for miles as IFD spent nearly 40 minutes extinguishing the jet-fueled blaze.
Multiple media outlets, including WISH TV in Indianapolis, touted the heroic efforts of two good Samaritans who risked their lives to pull Denman from the inferno.
Denman’s life was spared at the scene due to the actions of fellow truck driver Mitch Navarre and new mom Holly McNally.
In an interview with WISH TV, Navarre said he immediately pulled his truck over and ran to help Denman.
“I said, ‘I’m going to get you out,’ and he (Denman) looked at me,” Navarre recalled.
Navarre was soon joined by McNally, who had just left the hospital for a change of clothes and some food after being with her three-day-old son (her fourth child) in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
“All I was thinking was if this was my brother or my dad, I would want someone to help him,” McNally said.
“I told myself if something happened to me, at least I was doing a good deed,” she stated.
Navarre told the media he draped his coat over Denman, whose clothes were burned off his body from the fire, as he and McNally pulled him away from danger.
Officials said Denman only had his boots left, and officers at the scene also offered pieces of clothing to help cover the trucker while waiting for medics to arrive.
Denman was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent multiple surgeries.
Members from Denman’s family kept an online log of Denman’s condition, stating he sustained third degree burns to 75-80% of his body.
He also suffered inhalation damage to his lungs and fractured his neck and sternum, the family said.
However, on March 7 — 16 days following the accident — the family made the decision to discontinue life support.
According to the family, Denman was experiencing “major organ failure” of his liver and kidneys.
Additionally, he was dependent on a ventilator and was not conscious.
If he had regained consciousness, the family stated he would have had to undergo “months of surgeries and lose his right hand.”
The family explained Denman had a living will “that made his wishes clear in this circumstance.”
Denman, who was nicknamed “Duke,” served in the U.S. military for many years as a technical sergeant in the Air Force.
Following his service, Denman moved to Brownsburg, IN in July 2019 and began working for Jet Star, Inc., which primarily serves airports with aviation fuel, which he was hauling the day of the accident.
Following news of Denman’s passing, Jet Star released the following statement:
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. It is a sad day for the Jet Star family and all that knew “Duke.” Our deepest condolences to the Denman family and all of Duke’s friends. Please continue to pray for them during this difficult time.
The family said Denman passed peacefully with six members of his family at his side.
They emphasized Denman’s strong faith, stating they are “sure he is in a better place, reunited with his parents and grandparents.”
WATCH more from the tragic scene below.
Photos shared courtesy of ISP and the Denman family