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Ambulance Crash On Oklahoma Turnpike Shows Danger Of U-Turns

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An turnpike crash involving an ambulance Wednesday demonstrated the dangerous conditions emergency responders often face. An turnpike crash involving an ambulance Wednesday demonstrated the dangerous conditions emergency responders often face.
The driver of a Pafford ambulance said he is amazed no one was hurt in the crash that happened on the Will Rogers Turnpike near Claremore Wednesday morning. The driver of a Pafford ambulance said he is amazed no one was hurt in the crash that happened on the Will Rogers Turnpike near Claremore Wednesday morning.
"It is a dangerous thing," said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Captain George Brown. "It is a dangerous thing," said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Captain George Brown.
In 2006, OHP Trooper Bill McClendon was pulling a U-turn on the Will Rogers Turnpike and crashed with a semi. McClendon and the truck driver both died. In 2006, OHP Trooper Bill McClendon was pulling a U-turn on the Will Rogers Turnpike and crashed with a semi. McClendon and the truck driver both died.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

An turnpike crash involving an ambulance Wednesday demonstrated the dangerous conditions emergency responders often face.

You've probably seen the gaps between concrete barriers on turnpikes around here. They're spread out every one to three miles, and are meant for emergencies, but sometimes the responders who have to use them become the emergency.

The driver of a Pafford ambulance said he is amazed no one was hurt in the crash that happened on the Will Rogers Turnpike near Claremore Wednesday morning.

Austin Crow and his partner were making a U-turn on the turnpike, trying to get to an accident victim on the other side, when a semi rear-ended them before Crow could clear the gap.

4/10/2013 Related Story: Ambulance Involved In Crash On Will Rogers Turnpike Near Claremore

"There was definitely--we had a third passenger with us and, definitely, thank God for still being here," Crow said.

Crow said he sounded the sirens and flipped on the blinkers when he pulled into the turnaround.

"It kind of felt like a bomb went off in the back of the ambulance," he said.

It's a maneuver many highway troopers dread.

"It is a dangerous thing," said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Captain George Brown.

Brown said the only vehicles allowed to use turnpike turnarounds are police, fire, ambulances, public utility trucks, the turnpike authority and wreckers responding to an OHP call.

In 2006, OHP Trooper Bill McClendon was pulling a U-turn on the Will Rogers Turnpike and crashed with a semi. McClendon and the truck driver both died.

10/26/2012 Related Story: Stretch Of Highway 75 Dedicated To OHP Trooper Killed In 2006 Crash

"That was my partner, at the time," Brown said. "Those are dangerous things, so our word, our message, is for everyone to know that, to look for emergency vehicles responding.

Troopers say they'd rather wait for an exit or overpass than pull a U-turn, but sometimes that's not an option.

"If it's an emergency situation and we have to get to a location, sometimes we are forced to use those walls," Brown said.

Crow said that was the case in this morning's crash.

"I don't think it's fully set in yet, but I'm just lucky to be alive right now," he said.

Crow said he's done that U-turn safely many times, including in a fire truck.

If you are caught illegally trying to use a turnpike turnaround, it's at least a $211 ticket and could be elevated to a reckless driving violation.

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