A tragic accident on an icy Green Country highway leaves one man dead, another, grateful to be alive.
The News on 6 had the only crew on the ground after a semi-truck slammed into two vehicles on an icy bridge. News on 6 anchor Tami Marler talks with the survivor, and says this is the kind of story that really makes you realize how quickly, and randomly, tragedy can strike.
Christmas might be a little lean for Clifford Haney's family. On a recent shopping trip he lost all of his cash, his car and he nearly lost his life. In fact this "walking miracle" may be the greatest gift of all this year.
To understand why we say Clifford Haney is a walking miracle, you have to get a good look at the McClellan Kerr Bridge, and the 70-foot drop to the water below.
"I've always helped people you know. Broke down on the side of the road or something. Somebody's gotta do it. I would like it to be done with me," Clifford Haney said.
Haney was driving behind a pickup pulling a trailer when it lost control on the icy McClellan Kerr Bridge. He says he was concerned when he saw the driver.
"So I pulled up and turned on my flashers and I went back and I was talking to him. I was hollerin' 'Sir get away from the traffic, are you alright?' He had blood all over his face and everything. He was pretty bad," said Haney.
Just then, Haney heard a terrifying sound.
"First I heard the diesel downshift, you know how it makes rrrrrrr, at all. Seen him jack-knifing and hit the left concrete and was coming right at us and next thing I know I was up in the air."
The only way to go was down, 70-feet.
"You know how they tell you slow motion when you're falling? That's true. It took forever for me to hit that water," said Haney.
Heavy clothing and steel-toed boots took him straight to the bottom of the pitch-black river.
"I didn't know which way was up or down. I just had my feet on the bottom and I was kicking and swimming, hard as I could," Haney said.
He finally made it to a sandbar and yelled for help. With all the commotion above no one heard him for 45 minutes. The first thing he asked, what happened to the man he'd stopped to help?
24 year-old Dusty McBride died at the scene.
"I just feel bad about that guy. He's 24 years old and had a kid and wife, and they don't get a dad so," said Haney.
Haney says he and McBride were parked on the right shoulder with flashers flashing. He says several cars passed with caution in the left lane, but the semi did â€œnotâ€ yield, and appeared to be going "at least" the speed limit on the icy highway. Troopers are still investigating.
When we asked Haney if he considered himself a hero, he said "no" because he wasn't able to save Dusty McBride.