Lockhart man saves driver from vehicle fire
By LPR Staff
Brian Corbitt says that he is usually in the wrong place at the wrong time. Engle, Texas resident David Swift might disagree. Corbitt, 30, was in exactly the right place on Nov. 4 when he saved Swift’s life.
Corbitt, of Lockhart, was on his way to assist a work supervisor whose vehicle had stalled when he happened upon
an accident on Highway 90 outside of Flatonia.
“When I drove up, I saw an 18-wheeler across the road,” Corbitt said on Tuesday. “I also saw David’s truck on the side of the road, and it was on fire.”
Corbitt, a railroad track inspector with Union Pacific, stopped to offer assistance. He pulled Swift, 35, from the burning truck and dragged him to safety moments before the vehicle became engulfed in flames.
“He [Swift] was hurt pretty badly,” Corbitt said. “The 18-wheeler had basically rolled over the passenger side of his pickup truck.”
According to Corbitt, Swift’s leg was crushed in the accident. He also sustained burns to his face and had teeth knocked out when his air bag deployed. Corbitt was not injured extracting Swift from the vehicle.
“He was coughing up blood because of his teeth after I pulled him out.”
When he was sure Swift was safe, Corbitt returned to the truck to check for other passengers.
“The guy driving the 18-wheeler seemed okay… I think he was in shock,” he said. “After I got David away from the truck, I went to see if there was anyone else in there, but I couldn’t get close enough because of the heat.”
There were no passengers in Swift’s truck when the accident occurred. Normally, Swift, who owns a roadside assistance company, has his 2-year-old daughter with him when he works.
“It really hit home for me when I found out about his daughter,” Corbitt said. “I have a 9-month-old baby at home, and I just can’t imagine…”
Corbitt speculated that had the child been with Swift, she would have been killed in the crash.
DPS reports said that the accident occurred when the 18-wheeler failed to yield the right of way to Swift at a stop sign. He took evasive action, but collided with the tractor-trailer. The friction of metal-on-metal in the collision caused the sparks which ignited the fire, Corbitt said.
“I didn’t see the accident, but in that year-model truck, the air bag deploys and takes about 90 seconds to deflate,” he said. “It was about half-done when I got to the truck, so it had just happened.”
Corbitt contacted authorities and waited at the scene for help to arrive.
“Volunteers started showing up within about five minutes,” he said. “Then EMS got there, and they airlifted David to the hospital.”
Corbitt met Swift for the first time on Monday.
“It’s not the best way to start a friendship,” he said. “But we’re going to be bonded forever. He said that I’m going to be a part of his family forever. It was really nice to sit down and have a glass of iced tea and talk to him.”
Corbitt said he also met Swift’s wife and child, who were also shaken by the experience.
“She [Swift’s wife] was crying and thanking me,” he said. “The little girl didn’t really know what happened, but she knew and kept saying ‘Daddy ouchy.’”
Corbitt said he does not want to think of himself as a hero or to “blow his own horn.”
“I was shaken up for a few days,” he admits. “But when I saw him in that truck, I knew what would happen if he didn’t get out of there. There were air tanks and tires in the back of the truck, and before they put the fire out, they were burning and popping. We thought they might be bullets.”
“My mom always says that I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he concluded. “This time, I guess I was in the right place at the right time.”