Good Samaritan recalls rescuing man from fiery wreck

Passersby credited with saving trucker after semi rolled, tanker caught fire

Scott Weber, fiery semi-truck crash
Scott Weber recalls helping pull a fellow trucker from the scene of a fiery wreck along I-196 near South Haven. (Nov. 21, 2016)


HAMILTON, Mich. (WOOD) — Scott Weber was hauling steel on southbound I-196 in Allegan County early Monday morning when he noticed something was wrong on the exit ramp on the northbound side.

A tanker hauling 8,000 gallons of fuel had crashed and toppled over.

Weber and another driver pulled over and jumped into action.

“I got out of the truck and there’s nobody there. I’m like, ‘Oh my God.'” he remembered. “And he (the other driver) says, ‘Where you going?’ I says, ‘I’m gonna go see what’s up with this driver.'”

Weber, who lives in Hamilton and has been driving semi-trucks for more than three decades, said he’s never come across a scene like the one on the off-ramp to 109th Avenue in Casco Township, north of South Haven. He could see small flames coming from the truck.

“I was yelling, you know, screaming, hollering: ‘Anybody in there? Anybody in there?’” he told 24 Hour News 8.

That’s when things turned worse.

“Then, all of the sudden, one of the baffles let loose and it blew up,” Weber described. “Boom! Huge thing, you know. Stuff flying all through the sky.”

Crews work at the scene of a tanker fire in Casco Township (Nov. 21, 2016/Courtesy: South Haven Area Emergency Services)
Crews work at the scene of a tanker fire in Casco Township (Nov. 21, 2016/Courtesy: South Haven Area Emergency Services)

That’s when the other good Samaritan on scene found the truck driver, who had been thrown from the cab.

“This tank’s gonna blow,” Weber said he told the other man. “We gotta get him outta here right now.”

Two more men eventually showed up on scene and the four were able to pull the victim — Michael Bennett, 45, of the Benton Harbor area — to safety before the truck’s tires started exploding.

Michael Bennett
An undated courtesy photo of Michael Bennett.

Bennett’s family told 24 Hour News 8 that he suffered a spinal injury and has a long recovery ahead, but that he was alert and talking Monday. He was being treated at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.

As for Weber, once he saw emergency crews pull up to the scene, he got back in his truck and was on his way to make his deadline.

Fire officials credit the good Samaritans with saving Bennett’s life, saying they would not have arrived on the scene early enough to rescue him.

“Well, I say, God bless them,” Weber said of the firefighters. “Because they go through this every day. Everyday these people live this life.”

The other good Samaritans are Jeff Hunter of Gaylord, Chad Edgington of Illinois and Shawn Crittendon.

Bennett’s family said they are incredibly thankful for the four men and their life-saving act. They hope to meet the men and treat them to dinner.