Bus driver stops to help at scene of truck accident

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Jason Smathers
Monday, July 19, 2010
— Gary Fink has been driving coach buses for the Van Galder Bus Co. for about four years, but he had never made a stop like the one July 9.

Fink was approaching Janesville northbound on I-90/39 from O’Hare Airport, driving a quarter-mile behind a Minnesota couple in a U-Haul rental truck.

His scheduled O’Hare-Madison commute turned wildly chaotic in a matter of seconds.

The U-Haul blew a tire, swerved off the road and clipped a road sign. It then flipped onto its side as diesel fumes from the undercarriage ignited into a fireball. The truck finally came to rest on the side of the road.

Fink immediately radioed Val Galder dispatch to call 911. He then jumped out to survey the scene and saw the undercarriage was in flames from the bumper to the front.

Another man, who Fink said never identified himself, went over to the vehicle and jumped onto its side to help the couple out of the broken passenger window and onto the truck’s side. Fink then helped them off the vehicle.

Once the couple were safely away from the burning U-Haul, Fink ran back inside his coach bus to grab its fire extinguisher. In his spare time, Fink is a volunteer firefighter for Footville. He assumed the reaction just came naturally.

With most of the flames on the undercarriage out and the couple safe, Fink jumped back on the bus and pulled away, just as firefighters arrived to put out the fire inside the cargo trailer.

As Fink pulled away, the seven passengers—two bound for Janesville and five for Madison—were pleased with his heroics, despite the small delay in their trip.

“They said great job, basically,” Fink said.

Last updated: 2:20 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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