Locals come to aid of injured truck driver

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 2, 2010

NATCHEZ — Of all the places in Adams County to flip an 18-wheeler, a truck driver from Metairie, La., might have found the best one Monday night.

Tony Dawson, the name witnesses on the scene thought the man said, was alert, talking and moving his legs when off-duty help walked out of their houses and into the highway.

Dawson, traveling northbound on U.S. 61 South, veered into a rain-softened median right in front of Southfork subdivision just after 8 p.m. He was reacting to a loose wheel flying toward his lane that had come off a southbound pickup truck, witnesses said.

The driver of the pickup truck was fine, an Adams County Sheriff’s deputy on the scene said, but Dawson was complaining of back and neck pain.

Dawson, who managed to crawl from his truck cab on his own, was well-attended to by two registered nurses, in front of whose houses he’d just happened to wreck.

Susie Sikes, an RN who works for Deaconess HomeCare said she was at home for the evening when she heard the crash.

“I started calling neighbors, and they said, ‘They may need you,’” Sikes said. “So I grabbed my bag and came out here.”

Neighbor Sandra Powell, an emergency room nurse at Natchez Regional Medical Center, soon joined Sikes.

The nurses, along with help from their family members and other neighbors, made sure Dawson stayed still, calm and stabilized.

By the time an ambulance arrived on the scene, Dawson’s head rested on a pillow and his chest and legs were covered with blankets and jackets.

As seconds passed like minutes, 17 neighbors and passersby gathered around the man, making sure he was as comfortable as possible.

An ambulance arrived at approximately 8:25, and it wasn’t until Dawson was carefully loaded inside that Sikes and Powell took a moment to breathe.

“We do it unconsciously,” Sikes said.

Both nurses said they’ve stopped at roadside wrecks before, just to check, but Monday night was the first time they’ve been pulled into a highway wreck from their homes.

And other neighbors and passersby were thankful for the experts.

Randy and Chretia Johnson saw the whole accident through the window of their Sara Lane house.

“I saw sparks flying from the tire, and the tire ran off the road,” Randy Johnson said. “The tire came across the road, and he was trying to dodge it. We called 911 and came out here.”

Dawson was transported to Natchez Regional Medical Center; his condition was unavailable.

Traffic was backed on U.S. 61 South for more than 30 minutes as crews worked to remove the 18-wheeler from the median.