Driver Sacrifices His Life To Save Others Just Before Chemical Rig Explodes
A truck driver in Arkansas is being hailed as a hero after giving his life to save others. 63-year-old Randall McDougal was on a routine haul from El Dorado to Texarkana when he noticed that his brakes were on fire while driving on U.S. Highway 278 near Camden.
The flames worried McDougal immensely as he was carrying a load of ammonium nitrate, a highly combustible compound. Most often used in fertilizer, ammonium nitrate will explode if brought into contact with fire.
Worried about the lives that would be lost if the ammonium nitrate caught on fire, McDougal contacted police and emergency workers as he parked his truck on a lightly traveled road by Arkansas Highway 57.
EXPLOSION CLAIMS LIFE OF TRUCK DRIVER: Remains of an individual suspected to be those of Randall McDougal, 63, of El Dorado, have been recovered from the site of an explosion......Read: https://t.co/WOTnxWghPg pic.twitter.com/7mdhhdtwwD— AR State Police (@ARStatePolice) March 27, 2019
Instead of fleeing the burning truck, McDougal began warning residents and other drivers of the imminent danger.
As local firefighters arrived at the scene and began helping residents evacuate, McDougal ran back to the truck, intent on putting out the fire himself. Tragically, the truck exploded just as McDougal approached it, killing him in the blast.
In describing the extent of the damage, Camden Fire Chief Robert Medford compared it to a bomb blast.
We’re on the scene. There are pieces of the truck scattered and a 15 foot crater in the middle of the highway. @THV11 pic.twitter.com/PxiiZlZ1Ty— Erika Ferrando THV11 (@ErikaFerrandoTV) March 27, 2019
Speaking with reporters, fire officials told of how debris from the explosion spread over an area of “several football fields.” Levelling trees in its wake, the ground around the truck was scarred by a crater 15-feet wide.
Three firefighters also sustained minor injuries when their windshield was shattered in the pandemonium.
Reports indicate that the explosion was heard as far away as El Dorado, nearly 22 miles from the scene.
Officials were later able to recover McDougal’s remains, which were scattered over a wide section of the blast area.
Tributes soon came flooding in when news of McDougal’s sacrifice was reported by the media.
Tim Griffin, the state’s lieutenant governor, said that McDougal would be in his thoughts and prayers. McDougal’s son Jason hailed his father as a hero.
The Camden Fire Department just shared these photos with us of the damage to their trucks from today’s explosion. @THV11 pic.twitter.com/HxN7ntT4oa— Erika Ferrando THV11 (@ErikaFerrandoTV) March 28, 2019
Jason told reporters that he had heard the explosion that day and instantly called to check on his father. Grief-stricken, the younger McDougal said that his father was his hero and his role model.
While devastated, Jason says that his family takes solace in all the lives that McDougal saved with his selfless actions.
Social media users have also voiced their support. One user told of how McDougal saved her family, saying that she will be forever grateful.
What do you think of Randall McDougal’s selfless actions in dealing with the truck fire? Would you have done the same? Pass this story along.