CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The quick work of a Boak and Sons crew saved a passenger in a fiery crash on Raccoon Road, but it was too late to save the driver.
Chris Denno, a foreman of the Boak and Sons crew, was working on the roof of the Austin Log Cabin when he saw the crash, which occurred around 1:25 p.m. on Raccoon Road near Burgett Road in Canfield Township.
Sgt. Brian Vail, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said a female driver went left of center in a Chevy Cobalt heading southbound on Raccoon Road, colliding head-on with a Honda Accord in the northbound lane.
The vehicle then caught fire, and the Boak and Sons crew rushed to the scene to help, grabbing a log from the side of the road to smash in a window. The crew — Denno, Richard Markle, Sammy Lopez and Gary Jones — managed to pull the passenger out of the window but could not get the female driver out before a small explosion went off, completely engulfing the vehicle in flames.
“The car was on fire. Two of my guys got the passenger out, because he was still screaming and hollering. The woman was unconscious; the fire was right underneath her growing. And as I got as close as I could with a fire extinguisher, when the car exploded the second time, it burned my eyes so bad I fell back, and we just had to pull away. There was nothing I could do for her,” Denno recalled of the harrowing ordeal.
The female driver was killed. The passenger’s injuries are unknown, and neither the passenger nor the driver have been identified until next-of-kin is notified.
The driver of the Honda Accord was identified as 75-year-old Frank Costa, of Canfield. He sustained minor injuries, according to Highway Patrol.
The accident happened on a dangerous stretch of the road — in the bend of Raccoon Road, right in front of the Austin Log Cabin.
Walter Smith lives on the corner, where signs warn motorists to take the curve at 20 miles per hour. Still, he said, the sign has not kept accidents from occurring.
“I think we’ve been here about 22 years, and I think my wife kept count. It’s about 250 or so accidents in that length of time,” Smith said.
After the accident, it was back to work for the Boak and Sons crew, but their heroic actions did not go unnoticed by their boss.
“There’s not a lot of people that just would jump into a situation like that and help them,” said Boak and Sons Superintendent Roger McGinnis, who said he is proud of the men.
The roadway was completely shut down after the crash. The Austintown Police Department and Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office assisted with traffic control. The Austintown and Canfield fire departments were also on the scene to extinguish the vehicle fire.
The crash remains under investigation.