STANFORD — Joe Orazen of Russell Springs told Lincoln County Chief Deputy Sheriff Dannie Gilliam he was running late Tuesday afternoon when he drove by the scene of a two-vehicle collision on U.S. 27.
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 someone else would.
As he glanced in his rearview mirror, though, he saw the next five vehicles pass the wreck just as he had, so he turned around to render assistance.
The crash 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 Blessing’s car into a steel pole that supports the intersection’s traffic signal.
Orazen saw that Blessing’s vehicle was 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 collision 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 emergency medical personnel 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 treatment of multiple injuries and subsequently flown to University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center where he was in the intensive care unit. Blessing was treated at Fort Logan for cuts 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 suffering 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. It was the second accident like this within a week.