Trucker recounts harrowing escape from burning rig

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by JASON WHITELY / WFAA-TV

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

wfaa.com

Posted on April 8, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 9 at 12:49 PM

LEWISVILLE — The first images of the fiery wreck on Highway 121 at Interstate 35E in Lewisville Thursday afternoon were hard to fathom.

The cab of a burning semi was hanging off the side of an overpass after colliding with a North Texas Tollway Authority dump truck and street sweeper and then a pick-up.

"I honestly thought there was no way he could make it out of that truck," recalled Kala Dickinson, friend of the semi driver and owner of the 18-wheeler he was driving.

The Texas Department of Public Safety told News 8 that Randy Pierce's 18-wheeler was cut off by the NTTA dump truck and street sweeper about 1:20 p.m. Thursday just east of I-35E on Highway 121.

The impact sliced off the semi's fuel tank and set Pierce's big rig ablaze before it careened into the wall and dangled over the side of a bridge.

Somehow, Pierce, 59, along with the driver of the NTTA dump truck and street sweeper plus the pick-up truck's occupants all walked away from the fiery collision.

"My honest opinion is God must have had his hand on Randy," Dickinson said, "because there's no other way he could have gotten out of that."

Five hours after the accident, Dickinson's husband returned Pierce to his Tarrant County home. He's sore, but has a heck of a story.

"If I would have gone out the driver door where the flames were, it was straight down [to the river]," Pierce remembered. "So I went out the passenger door."

Pierce had been hauling 40,000 pounds of frozen chicken to Sysco in Lewisville when the wreck occurred.

"Somebody was watching over me," he added. "It wasn't my time yet."

Aside from a few scratches on his left hand and one on his head, the veteran trucker is OK.

DPS said no tickets have been issued in connection with the accident.

NTTA said the main lanes of Highway 121 should reopen by 10 p.m. Thursday. Though he wasn't hurt, the NTTA's dump truck and street sweeper driver did not feel good enough for an interview, a tollway authority spokesman said.

Kala Dickinson's small trucking company, which Pierce has driven for the last four years, is called A Leap of Faith. She said it's what she and her husband did by starting it nine years ago.

But Randy gave that name new meaning Thursday afternoon when he jumped out of his burning cab as it teetered off the side of a highway  bridge.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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