Four Rescued From Burning Truck After Alcohol-Related Crash

9:32 PM, Jul 29, 2013   |    comments
  • Four rescued in fiery crash in Union County, NC (Photo: WBTV)
  • Four rescued in fiery crash in Union County, NC (Photo: WBTV)
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Troopers in Union County told CBS affiliate WBTV they responded to two alcohol-related accidents involving the same truck Sunday night. The second one ended with the truck catching fire - four people inside were rescued.

According to NC Highway Patrol, the first accident happened at 6:15 p.m. on Wesley Woods Road. Josh Thomas was identified as the driver in that wreck. He was accused of hitting a bridge and a mailbox. 

That's when troopers say a neighbor confronted Thomas, who drove off with three other men.

While investigators were completing their report on the Wesley Woods Road accident, Highway Patrol said they received a second call around 9 p.m. about another crash involving the same vehicle, but with a different driver.

The accident was on Griffith Road. Troopers said the driver, Phillip Ray Helms, crossed the center line and collided with the embankment - causing the truck to catch fire with four men still inside.

Troopers said a neighbor pulled the three passengers out of the vehicle. Helms was finally rescued, but he suffered severe burns. He was taken to the burn center in Chapel Hill.

Thomas, Kenneth Scott Dixon and Aaron Simpson were also taken to the hospital for treatment, investigators said.

Helms is facing charges for DWI, and Careless and Reckless Driving. Troopers told WBTV that alcohol and speed were factors in both accidents.

Trooper didn't say what charges Thomas is facing for the first accident.

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