WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. (WKBN) – Thousands of cars drive on Interstate 80 every day, but Wednesday morning a driver went off the road in Western Pennsylvania and nobody saw it.
When someone finally did notice the car overturned in a wooded area, it started a huge rescue effort.
Pennsylvania State Police got a call just before 9 a.m. that a car was off the road. Trooper Jamhal Simon was the first one there. He found the car upside down and the driver wouldn’t answer him.
“I initially thought the individual was deceased. He was definitely unresponsive. I tried a couple of times to get his attention, and he wasn’t responding to me at all,” Simon said.
The rescue effort started, and the driver eventually woke up. Troopers later identified the man as 41-year-old Claude Bowling, Jr., of Campbell.
The temperature was in the single digits and no one knew how long Bowling had been trapped, upside down, out in the cold.
“Hypothermia tends to set in a lot quicker than a normal accident that’s witnessed,” said Shenango Township Fire Chief Justin Barnes.
The rescue was difficult. Bowling had to be taken through brush and up a hill.
“The individual stuck inside was a larger individual, so we needed a lot of manpower on the scene,” Branes said.
Simon said a pulley system was used to bring Bowling up the hill.
Once up the hill, the rescue wasn’t complete. Life-Flight was ready to take Bowling to the hospital, but that was scrubbed and he was loaded onto an ambulance instead.
“The weight was exceeded due to the weight of the individual, and the gas in the vehicle. We weren’t able to Life Flight him due to all those conditions,” Simon said.
Simon said speed definitely played a factor in the accident, and that the car jumped at least three feet off the ground by the marks on the trees.
Police also found suspected drugs in the car and open containers of alcohol.
Bowling was taken to the hospital and will be tested to see if he was driving impaired.