Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Deputy rescues man from burning vehicle

Doors and windows wouldn’t unlock in GMC Sierra

Express Staff Writer

A Blaine County sheriff's deputy rescued a Jerome man from a burning vehicle Sunday north of Hailey after the power-lock doors and windows on the 2007 GMC Sierra wouldn't function.

The incident occurred about 10:20 a.m. on state Highway 75 near its intersection with West Meadow Drive. Sheriff's Capt. Ed Fuller said Donald Depew, 68, was northbound in the Sierra pulling a fifth-wheel trailer when the vehicle began to lose power and started smoking from the engine compartment.

Fuller said Depew was able to get the vehicle to the side of the road but couldn't get out because the power-lock doors and windows wouldn't work. Depew called 911. Deputy Tony Munoz was closest to the area and was the first officer on the scene.

"There were flames coming out from underneath the engine compartment when Tony arrived," Fuller said.

The captain said Munoz was able to communicate with Depew by cell phone and was told that there was a spare key in the back of the truck. Munoz was able to find the key and unlock a door, enabling Depew to get out.

Fuller said Munoz' next option would have been to break a window.

Wood River Fire and Rescue extinguished the flames, but Fuller said damage in the engine compartment was extensive enough to declare the vehicle a total loss.

Fuller said the incident was a potentially life-threatening situation.

"Certainly, if he wasn't able to get out and there was no one there to help him," Fuller said.

Terry Smith:

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