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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Road Ranger Saves FL Tow Truck Driver Pinned By Bus

Here's the Orlando Sentinel story:

A Road Ranger's quick action saved a tow truck driver who was pinned under a bus today.

The mishap started when a Lynx bus broke down just after 5 p.m. near the intersection of Conroy and Vineland roads, near The Holy Land Experience theme park. A driver from Johnson's Wrecker who showed up to tow the bus instead needed help himself.

Road Rangers patrol Interstate 4, but Ranger Mike Cocomazze had exited I-4 at Conroy for a quick break when he spotted the ailing bus. It was blocking traffic, so he went to help.

That's when he heard the two truck driver.

"He was yelling, 'Get the bus off me! Get the bus off me!" Cocomazze said.

The tow truck driver had crawled underneath the bus as he began to hook it to his truck. Somehow, he became pinned between the bus and the curb.

"He was absolutely in distress," Cocomazze said. "It was affecting his breathing. I didn't know how long he had."

Road Rangers don't carry the kind of specialty equipment firefighters use to extricate accident victims. But Cocomazze did have a hydraulic jack he uses to change flat tires.

While his dispatcher called the Orlando Fire Department, Cocomazze ran to his truck and got the jack. He put it between the bus and the curb, and managed to lift the vehicle just enough to pull the man free.

Paramedics transported the tow truck driver to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he was being treated Sunday night. A Johnson's representative said his condition wasn't life-threatening.

"I didn't see it as a big deal," Cocomazze said. "When you've been doing this for five years, it's just another incident."

Mark Schlueb can be reached at mschlueb@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5417.

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