Emergency crews worked for almost an hour Tuesday to free a York woman trapped in her car after it collided with a mobile crane on Alexander Love Highway near York Comprehensive High School.
Firefighters used the “jaws of life” to extract Michelle Dodge, who suffered a fractured pelvis and two spinal injuries that did not result in paralysis, York Police Chief Andy Robinson said.
Dodge’s head had been trapped under part of the truck-mounted crane and some debris, York Fire Chief Domenic Manera.
“The hook on the crane was beyond her head,” Manera said. “Her head (was) beneath that truck and debris.”
Crews used the crane’s suspension to lift the truck off the car, while at the same time using winches attached to the back of service vehicles to pull the car, said Manera. They also used a number of other extraction devices to free Dodge.
Dodge, who officials say is in her early 20s, was talking and communicating with her rescuers as they worked to free her, said Capt. Brian Trail of the York Police Department.
A medical evacuation helicopter took Dodge to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte for treatment.
“I’m very surprised it wasn’t worse,” Robinson said. “She’s very fortunate. The fire department did a great job getting her out.”
Robinson said he didn’t foresee any charges being filed.
A preliminary investigation indicated Dodge had just dropped her sister off at the school at about 8 a.m., Trail said. When she drove out of the parking lot, she pulled into the path of the oncoming crane.
The crane struck her car on the driver’s side and pushed the vehicle a short distance.
Drew Hodge, the crane’s driver, was not injured.
As rescue crews worked to free the woman, Hodge, 35, waited and watched.
He was driving the C.F. Reece & Son crane truck past the high school, he said, and when the car pulled into the road, he didn’t have time to react.
“I was right on her when she pulled out,” he said.
Hodge has been driving for the company “on-and-off” for nearly seven years, he said. He returned to work full time this year.
“I just hope the lady’s all right,” Hodge said. “I ain’t worried about anything else. I think we’re all lucky.”
While rescue crews worked to free Dodge, most students at York Comprehensive High were already in class, said Matt Brown, assistant superintendent for York School District 1.
Students who usually enter the school through the Alexander Love Highway parking lot were redirected to enter at Lincoln Road, Brown said.
York police, fire and rescue units, as well as emergency crews from Piedmont Medical Center and CMC, were on the scene.