Joe Orazen of Russell Springs told Lincoln County Chief Deputy Dannie Gilliam he was “running late” when he drove by the scene of a two-vehicle collision on US 27 Tuesday afternoon around 3 p.m.
Orazen was returning home from a dental appointment in Lexington when he witnessed the collision in front of the Stanford Walmart but told Gilliam he didn’t stop because he was sure that someone else would. As he glanced in his rearview mirror, he saw the next five vehicles pass the wreck just as he had, so he turned around to render assistance.
The wreck occurred when Samuel Blessing, 22, of Naylor Ridge, turned his 1993 Chevy Lumina from the northbound turn lane into the path of an oncoming Dodge Ram 3500. The impact drove Blessings vehicle into the steel pole that supports the intersection’s traffic signal.
Orazen saw that the Blessing’s vehicle had begun smoking and knew he had to get the occupants out, so he grabbed a hand-sledgehammer from his vehicle and went to work on the Lumina’s rear window. Orazen had to go in through the back, because the passenger side had absorbed the impact of the pickup, and the driver side was up against the pole.
It wasn’t easy; Orazen told Gilliam, “I hit that window four times before it busted.”
As law enforcement and EMS arrived on the scene, Orazen was helping Blessing and his passenger, Billy Smith, out of the vehicle. Shortly thereafter, the Lumina burst into flames.
Smith, 32, was taken to Fort Logan Hospital for multiple injuries and subsequently flown to UK’s Chandler Medical Center where he remains in the intensive care unit. Blessing was treated at Fort Logan for lacerations on his head and elbow and released.
The driver of the pickup, Ronal Dietrich, 52, of Jeffersonville, and his passenger, Jason Mann, of Means, refused treatment, despite Mann sustaining minor injuries.
Blessing told Gilliam that he thought he had a green arrow that would have allowed him to safely turn into the Walmart parking lot. This is the second accident like this within a week.