Two people were airlifted to the hospital after a four-car crash Friday afternoon on Fontana Boulevard in Havelock.
One of the vehicles, a pickup truck, caught fire, and witnesses to the crash managed to pull the driver out to safety.
The crash, which happened around 4:10 p.m., left Fontana Boulevard blocked for more than 90 minutes to allow Cherry Point Search and Rescue Helicopter Pedro to land on the two-lane road and to allow for cleanup of the scene.
According to initial reports and witnesses at the scene, the pickup truck was heading west on Fontana Boulevard and had just rounded a curve when it crossed the center line, sideswiped one car heading east and then struck an eastbound Toyota Corolla head-on before striking a van.
The pickup truck started smoking and then erupted into flames.
Jeremiah Johnson, coach of the Havelock High soccer team who was heading home after practice, said the pickup truck barely missed his car and he witnessed the wreck in his review mirror.
“He was already slumped over when he went by me,” Johnson said of the pickup truck driver.
He stopped his car, dialed 9-1-1 and then went to the truck, which was smoking and starting to burn.
“I saw that the truck was on fire and just ran around and jumped in the passenger side because the driver’s side door was jammed shut,” Johnson said. “Another guy came in and helped me push him out and another gentleman was outside. We were trying to get the door open, but we couldn’t get it open, so we said let’s get him through the window, and then it really went up in flames.”
Johnson said he and others tried to talk to the driver but that he responded incoherently.
The women driver of the Corolla was pulled from her vehicle, and both received treatment on the side of the road.
“I prayed over him and then I prayed over her,” said Dan Pratt, a worker at nearby Tandemloc who was involved in pulling the pickup truck driver to safety.
The driver of the pickup and the driver of the Corolla were both airlifted via Pedro to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. The driver of the van was taken by ambulance to CarolinaEast Medical Center in New Bern. Their names and conditions were not available at press time.
Diane Miller, spokeswoman for the city, said Havelock police would likely continue the investigation into the crash through the weekend. She expected a report to be available on Monday.