Backslide mishap traps driver in dump truck about 40 feet in the air

November 01, 2000
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesThe Santa Paula Fire Department were involved in a unique rescue when a dump truck slid backwards off a high pile of rock and dirt, coming to rest with the cab of the truck straight up in the air. . .and the driver still behind the wheel.The incident occurred on Monday, Oct. 23, at just about 1 p.m., in the 1300 block of Santa Clara Street.Ogden Construction has been stockpiling rock and dirt pulled out of the Santa Paula Creek and dumping it just north of Highway 126, before sifting and sorting the material, according to SPFD Chief Paul Skeels.Dump truck driver Justin Foster, 23 of Ventura, was “driving a very large dump truck and drove in up on top of a very large pile of dirt and rock,” in the early stages of processing. When Foster activated the back of the truck to dump its load, the “edge of the mound gave way and the dump truck backed over - fortunately very slowly - the side. It came to rest in a position perpendicular to the earth, about halfway down the earth and rock,” said Chief Skeels.Foster was sitting in the cab, approximately 40 feet above ground and “pointing straight up in the sky. . .”The on duty fire engine responded to the scene and Captain Dan Campos called for a full response of paid call volunteers, “due to the obvious technical difficulties we were going to have,” getting Foster safely out of the truck cab.Chief Skeels and other SPFD personnel conferred with Ogden Construction officials after determining Foster had not been injured in the mishap. “We directed him to just to stay in the cab and not move around a lot while we figured out how to safely get him out,” Chief Skeels said. “We did have concern the truck might fall over and cause injury and damage.”
SPFD and Ogden personnel planned the rescue, which included stabilizing the truck bed by using the extended bucket of a large skip loader and then attaching a cable from the top of the hill anchored by another large tractor.“At that point we figured Foster’s truck was pretty well stabilized and wouldn’t fall during the rescue operation,” and a fire engine with a 50-foot ladder was driven to the top of the mound after its compactness was confirmed. Ropes and safety lines were set and the ladder extended over the slope to gain access to the truck cab.“Firefighter Frank Molina crawled out carrying additional rescue lines and a safety harness,” which was dropped to Foster before he “carefully got out and onto the ladder with help,” from Molina.The both crawled safely back on the ladder and after about two hours on scene - including getting the fire engine back down from the mound and Ogden personnel righting and moving the truck - the incident came to a successful conclusion.Firefighter Molina, like others on the SPFD, has received “additional training in rope rescues. . .he was selected for the rescue by Cpt. Campos and Asst. Chief Rick Araiza to climb out there, which he did very well,” said Chief Skeels.

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