Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

April 26, 2014

Woman escapes fiery crash

Rob Cox Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — 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.

White suffered a compound fracture to her left leg and complained of severe pain in her right leg, according to her boyfriend, Cole Lienhoop, who arrived on scene after the crash.

Lienhoop and others on scene marveled that she was able to escape, forcing the driver’s-side door open despite the fact the vehicle’s frame was badly twisted and warped.

“It had to have been adrenaline,” one of the firefighters concluded.

White’s injuries were sufficiently severe that first responders wanted to airlift her, but low cloud cover made a helicopter evacuation unworkable, and she was instead taken by ambulance to Decatur County Memorial Hospital.

In addition to the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department, the Burney Volunteer Fire Department, the Decatur County EMS, the Letts Volunteer Fire Department and the Greensburg Fire Department also responded to the crash. Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Rohr led the investigation into the accident.

Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011;