KINGSTON — A long-haul truck driver is lucky to be alive following a nasty vehicle accident on Tuesday.
Idaho State Police Sgt. Sean Lind reported to the News-Press that on Jan. 29, Michael Schau, 57, of Iowa was traveling eastbound on Interstate 90 carrying a large load of lumber in a semi-truck.
Around 11:20 a.m., the semi-truck drifted off the south side of the road near milepost 42 and tipped over on its side as a result.
The vehicle then proceeded to slide into the hillside next to the road and take out several large trees in the process. These barriers tore the cab of the truck apart and caused diesel fuel to leak — leading to large fire.
If the crash itself didn’t attract attention to the incident, the accompanying fire did, as passing motorists drove past a huge fireball next to a large load of lumber. Sgt. Lind believes that the cause of ignition was electrical.
Schau survived the initial crash and was attempting to exit what remained of the burning driver cab when two bystanders assisted him in escaping the scene.
Emergency crews with Shoshone County Fire District No. 2 responded after 911 calls flooded the Shoshone County Dispatch Center.
Firefighters attacked the blaze upon arrival and successfully extinguished it before it spread to the lumber or the surrounding foliage.
Schau, the only occupant, was taken by ambulance to Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene and was treated for minor facial injuries.
ISP believes the cause of the crash to be inattentive driving or sleepiness, as there were no signs that Schau engaged his breaks or that his tires were defective. Available evidence suggests the semi-truck simply drifted off the road.
Schau had picked up the lumber in Kettle Falls, Wash., and was on his way back to Iowa.
The roadway was partially blocked for several hours as crews worked to clean up the scene.
Lind made sure to recognize those who helped Schau in his moment of need.
“Many thanks to the two people who stopped to assist and get him out and away from the vehicle.”