Tanker driver describes fiery wreck, thanks rescuers

Michael Bennett on veering for deer: "That's when ... all h*** broke loose"

Michael Bennett
Michael Bennett recalls the crash that nearly killed him from his hospital bed at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Every night since the fiery crash that almost killed him, Michael Bennett says a prayer for the four men listed on the white board in his room at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.

“Scott, Jeff, Chad, Shawn. Those gentlemen are true heroes,” added Bennett.

Scott Weber, Jeff Hunter, Chad Edgington and Shawn Crittendon are the men who pulled Bennett away from the burning wreckage of his tanker truck early Monday.

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)

“Without them, I wouldn’t… I wouldn’t been able to make it,” said Bennett.

Bennett was exiting I-196 early Monday morning with 8,500 gallons of gasoline in tow, when he swerved to avoid three deer on the ramp to Pullman Road in Allegan County’s Casco Township.

“That’s when everything… all hell broke loose,” he said.

The weight of the cargo caused his rig to flip.

Bennett managed to unlock his seat belt as the tractor tumbled.

“And I fell out of the truck, swoosh. And I landed, boom, ” he recollected.

“But I seen the truck flipping over me. I could see it going in the air. And all I could think (was) ‘Please don’t land on top of me.’”

It didn’t, but Bennett was dangerously close to the consequential flames. Unable to move because of injuries he suffered in the fall, Bennett called for help- a plea the four heroes heard.

“That’s when they all just came together and they all just lifted me at one time and just started pulling me. And then once we got up over the hill… boom!” Bennett said.

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)

The 45-year-old husband and father of two girls has a long road to recovery ahead, but he says he’s not worried. After all, he made it through the crash.

As for the four men who risked their lives, not only did they save Bennett’s life; they also restored his faith.

“Even as a divided nation and the country that we are, we still have the kinds of people that will go out of their way to save another individual,” he said.

Bennett says he hopes to meet the four men in person and buy them a steak dinner when he gets out of the hospital.

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