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Woman, others rush to save inmates trapped in overturned van

<i>WSMV</i><br/>A Clarksville woman said she didn't think twice when she rushed to pull people from an overturned van on Interstate 40.
WSMV
WSMV
A Clarksville woman said she didn't think twice when she rushed to pull people from an overturned van on Interstate 40.

By Marissa Sulek

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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — A Clarksville woman said she didn’t think twice when she rushed to pull people from an overturned van on Interstate 40.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said eight people were inside, including six inmates.

Troopers said the bus was traveling west on I-40 when a tire blew out. The driver veered off the road, hit a guard rail, and tumbled down a hill.

Drivers stuck in traffic on I-40 Wednesday may not have know what happened. Rebekah Saville of Clarksville saw it all unfold.

“It wasn’t something I’d ever seen before,” Saville said.

She said she heard prisoners inside the van yelling. She said they were shackled, behind a cage, but she didn’t care.

“They were people, they were hurt, and they needed help,” she said.

Saville said she and three others called 911 then rushed to save those onboard.

“It was just a lot of chaos,” Saville said. “People’s stuff being thrown out of the van, people looking for their cell phones saying, ‘I need to call so and so.’”

She said some inside couldn’t find a way out.

“The female guard that was there, she was a passenger, and the van was laying on its side,” Saville said. “We pulled the windshield off to help her get out.

“I don’t even know her name. We just talked about her kids and her family and just tried to keep her calm and awake and that kind of thing.”

Saville said EMS arrived, the interstate shut down, and three helicopters took three people to the hospital. Others left in an ambulance.

“There was one guy they had to wait for the fire department and jaws of life to get him out,” Saville said.

The van was pulled out of the ditch Wednesday afternoon. THP said six people on the bus were injured, but Saville knows it could have been worse.

“I just thank the other people that stopped too,” Saville said. “There were several of us there, so we were able to work together to get things done more quickly. None of us exchanged names, so I don’t know who they were.”

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said both the driver and the guard in the passenger seats did not have seatbelts on when the van crashed.

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