Driver Charged in Bakery Truck Wreck - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/14/04

Driver Charged in Bakery Truck Wreck

The cab slammed into a tree. The cab slammed into a tree.

A wreck on Interstate 16 in Savannah shut down traffic for almost seven hours overnight. It happened at the Stiles Avenue overpass. The driver of a big rig went off the interstate into an embankment.

Amazingly, he is okay. It all happened at about midnight, and from the Talmadge Bridge to 516 westbound, the road was closed until just before 7am.

Looking at this wreckage off the side of I-16, it's amazing to think the driver of the 18-wheeler was conscious when firefighters came to his rescue. "We cut the passenger door off the vehicle, we pulled the dash away, we actually had to remove the area near the brake pedals to get his feet freed from the area as well," said Matt Stanley with the Savannah Fire Department.

John Willie Ruth II, 37, was driving the Derst Bakery truck when, he told police, he fell asleep at the wheel. The truck veered off the road down an 80-foot embankment wrapping around a tree.

A tree which saved his life. "If he had not hit the oak tree he would have been in the canal, the truck would have been in the canal," said Stanley.

I-16 was shut down as police and firefighters cleaned up the mess. This morning, when the dust cleared, a cleanup crew and a representative from Derst poked through what was left behind. While officials from Derst would not comment on the situation, the fire department says, with potentially hazardous accidents like this, they have to bring out units from everywhere.

"We had 12 units, three engines, two hazmat, five administrative," said Stanley.

The driver is being charged with failure to maintain a lane. His injuries were not life-threatening.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com

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