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Mercersburg man pulled from burning pickup

November 28, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - A Mercersburg man was critically injured when his pickup truck burst into flames in a Monday crash on Pa. 16, Pennsylvania State Police said.

Elmer N. Windsor, 47, was pulled from the burning truck by three men who were passing through the area, police said in a news release.

Windsor was driving west on Pa. 16 (Buchanan Trail West) when the back of his GMC Sonoma swerved into oncoming traffic at about 4:30 p.m., about a quarter-mile west of Pa. 416 in Peters Township, police said. An eastbound Ford F-150 struck the Sonoma, causing it to catch fire and sending it spinning, police said.

Windsor was in critical condition Wednesday morning in the intensive care burn unit at Washington Hospital Center, a spokeswoman there said.

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James Malone, 52, of Mercersburg, was driving about 100 yards behind Windsor and saw the aftermath of the impact.

"I just saw this red pickup truck spinning and engulfed in a big ball of flame," Malone said by phone Tuesday night. Other witnesses told him later that the truck had started fishtailing for some reason and had been struck directly in the gas tank, he said.

Malone, who was driving a school van for Mercersburg Academy, parked about 50 yards away. At first, he said, he couldn't tell if anyone was inside, and the driver's side door was too hot to allow anyone to approach.

"There were just flames all over the place on the back of the truck," Malone said.

Malone said he got a fire extinguisher from the van and, while another man tried to put out the flames, Malone found that the passenger side was protected from the heat and pulled the door open.

The unconscious driver was lying across the seat with his head near the glove compartment, and Malone pulled him out and dragged him away from the truck, he said.

Michael Laubs, 43, and Richard Murphy, 40, both of Mercersburg, also helped in the rescue, police said.

The driver of the F-150 was not injured, but a 12-year-old passenger suffered minor injuries and was taken to Waynesboro (Pa.) Hospital, police said.

The front end of the F-150 was completely smashed in and the airbag was deployed, Malone said.

Pa. 16 was closed in both directions for about two hours, police said.

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