PATEROS — An Omak man helped rescue the driver of a tractor-trailer that crashed into a marsh Thursday afternoon, May 2, 5 miles south of town.
Witness Craig Randall, 21, was southbound on U.S. Highway 97 when the truck in front of him lost control around a curve and struck the guardrail on the west side of the road.
The truck separated from its trailer, overturned and rolled down the embankment before coming to rest on its wheels in a marsh. The trailer came to rest on its side next to the roadway.
Randall said he called 911 right away, and then jumped into the marsh to help the driver, Richard S. Radisich, 39, East Wenatchee.
“The cab of the truck was torn off and I couldn’t see him,” Randall said. “I had to jump in and help get his head above water and get him out of the cab. The vehicle was still sinking by the time I got there.”
Initially, Radisich’s head was under water and his legs were pinned against the driver’s door, Randall said.
“He told me he could move (his legs), he just had to go out from the top of his vehicle,” Randall said.
After the crash, Radisich was taken to Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster. He was cited by the Washington State Patrol with driving under the influence.
Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office Chief Criminal Deputy Dave Rodriguez said it’s scary to think that professional drivers might be driving under the influence.
“He’s lucky (Randall) was there,” Rodriguez said. “Maybe this will be a wakeup call.”
Randall said it was instinct more than anything that made him react.
“God called us to do something,” he said.
He said law enforcement is something he’s always wanted to get into, and he’s currently in the process of applying for a job at the jail.
Randall said the water wasn’t particularly cold, but it was muddy and “deeper than I thought,” he said.
The incident occurred at 4:43 p.m.
“Basically, he was just going too fast and went into the ditch,” Randall said.
Deputy Shane Jones was in the Pateros area at the time and was the first responder to the scene. The truck was destroyed.