DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Firefighters in DeKalb County made a dramatic rescue of a man whose car was crushed by a massive tree as he drove down a busy roadway Thursday afternoon.
It happened as the man was driving his Toyota Camry west along Lavista Road near Brook Forest Drive during one of the storms. Firefighters hustled to get the scene and get work trying to get the driver out safely out of the vehicle.
"It was horrible because when I looked inside the car, I could see the trunk across his torso and he wasn't moving," said one witness who spoke to FOX 5' Portia Bruner.
Firefighters quickly retrieved extrication tools to rescue the man trapped inside his crushed car, but operating in rain and maneuvering through downed power lines made for a delicate operation. Rescuers had to clear tree debris and power lines to get access to the driver. Emergency workers entered from the rear of the vehicle to get the victim out.
"First we had to stabilize the car and the tree because the car was still running and his foot was still on the gas after the tree crushed the hood. We had to address that before we could begin the extrication process," said DeKalb County Fire Battalion Chief Ken McKinney.
Firefighters entered rear section of vehicle to rescue driver! Valiant work! Prayers continue! pic.twitter.com/nkDebgBKRO— Portia Bruner (@PortiaFOX5) May 4, 2017
After removing several sections of the vehicle, firefighters climbed inside through the back and carefully pulled the driver from the side of the car. Chief McKinney said the driver was in critical condition, semi-conscious and breathing on his own after the rescue. He was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment.
Witnesses applauded the firefighters' valiant efforts.
"I'm just grateful to see that. That's like a Christmas present for all of us to see him come out alive," said a witness who lives near the intersection where the tree fell.
McKinney commended his firefighters for working smoothly as a team.
"It is amazing when we get to save lives. But that's our job and we enjoy doing it," the battalion chief said with a smile.
After the man was sent to the hospital, Georgia Power and cleanup crews arrived on the scene to begin clearing the road and repairing the power lines.
Thursday's storms and winds brought down trees and caused damage throughout Atlanta and north Georgia. The strong winds are due to a unique weather event called a "wake low," which began early Thursday morning.