FOREST HILL — A Columbus woman may have been the luckiest person in Decatur County Friday morning when she made a dramatic escape from her crashed vehicle, crawling roughly 40 yards to safety as the car erupted into flames behind her.
According to Decatur County Sheriff Greg Allen, Allie White, 20, lost control of her 2004 Dodge Stratus SXT around a sloping curve on County Road 700 W., near the intersection of County Road 480 S shortly after 10 a.m. Friday.
Fortunately for White, who was the vehicle’s only occupant, a home sits directly across the street from the tree into which she slammed the vehicle. The homeowners called 911 and Decatur County EMS was on scene, tending White’s injuries, as firefighters battled the flames.
According to Allen, White told emergency responders she lost control of the vehicle due to a slick roadway caused by rainy conditions. She also told first responders she was wearing her seatbelt, which Allen concluded was likely true. Otherwise, the sheriff explained, White likely would’ve lost consciousness or been ejected from the vehicle.
“If she’d been knocked out,” Allen said, gazing at the vehicle’s blackened remains, “we’d be looking at a fatality. She would’ve burned up.”
Based on the car’s trajectory and the angle at which it crashed into the tree, investigators surmised that the Stratus banged the tree at an unlucky angle, involving the battery and the fuel lines, causing a spark and a fast-burning fire. To Allen’s knowledge, there’s no reason to believe there was any defective facet or feature of the car that caused or contributed to the blaze.
Allen added that, in addition to slick road conditions, speed probably contributed to the crash. “She was probably going too fast and went straight through the curve and struck the tree,” the sheriff said.