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Tri-State Doctor Helps Victims at Deadly Tennessee Bus Crash
CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- He was one of the first on the scene of a terrible bus crash in Tennessee in October of 2013, now a doctor from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center sits down with medical reporter Liz Bonis to share a story of heartbreak and heroes in today's Medical Edge.
Hard to believe that a trip to the historic Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina for a medical conference could be anything but beautiful but suddenly on the drive along the way on Interstate forty in Tennessee Dr. Fred Lucas saw "there was a big cloud of black smoke about a quarter a mile ahead."
The pathologist got closer and could see "there was a giant fire and accident scene, a lot of mayhem, chaos, we pulled over to the side." He didn't hesitate but rather rushed toward a scene of this accident.
Photos he snapped show "there were no police at that point, there was no EMT, there were bodies all over the ground and the giant fire, it looked as though there was a semi tractor trailer burning, and what looked like a bus on it's side, which had been in the crash."
As this video courtesy of YouTube shows a church bus and a truck collided. The death toll would eventually be eight people, mostly senior citizens. But doctor lucas says at the time, "it wasn't clear who was dead and who was alive, and so this truck driver and I pulled one body back from the diesel fire, it was exploding."
He describes one woman he discovered as he moved through the wreckage to try and find those who were alive, "there was another body that was pretty close, and we pulled her back, she was alive, kind of raised up, looked us in the eye, and then died right in front of us. That was the hard part, that's the one image, I will probably always remember."
That is quite a statement from a humble physician, who did everything he could to save lives that day. He admits after spending much of his time for years working behind the scenes, it was little out of his comfort zone, but he also says if he had to, he would do it all again, "oh yeah, yeah, it's just what people do, it's what you should do."
He says the real heroes are the survivors and the first responders: "I will say that the EMT's were remarkable."
H says it kind of reminds all of us how quickly life can change, "there is a finite quality about things, and that clearly happened here."
That crash is still under investigation.