If Rob Litton hadn’t been hauling a skid steer Friday afternoon, things could have turned out very differently.

An empty transfer truck was heading east on Peppers Ferry Road about 4 p.m., heading to the Pepsi plant, when the truck’s trailer traveled off the side of the road into a ditch. The driver overcorrected into the path of Litton, who was traveling west on Peppers Ferry in a black pickup.

Soon after the collision, the rig’s cab caught fire. The driver of the big rig made it out, but the impact trapped Litton inside his vehicle, pinned to the larger truck. The flames were moving toward Litton.

Enter Donnie Jones, fellow motorists and members of nearby Fellowship Baptist Church. The group included Stanley Demers, Aron Davies, Trey Warden and Brandon Dean.

Jones, who works in construction and has experience driving bulldozers, removed the skid steer from Litton’s pickup, secured the brush hog attachment and used it to lift and pull Litton’s truck away from the flames. Together, the men attempted to free Litton and assured him he was going to be OK.

Extracting Litton from his truck took nearly 90 minutes. The men helped the Wytheville Fire Department in that endeavor. Litton was flown to Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in fair condition on Tuesday, suffering from multiple broken bones and other injuries.

Wytheville Fire Chief Marc Brade and the Virginia State Police trooper who investigated the crash, Patrick Goard, agreed that the men saved Litton’s life with their quick thinking.

Members of the Wytheville Police Department and Wythe County Rescue Squad were also on the scene.

“It’s not one person that does all the good,” said Kristie Jones, who was traveling with Donnie Jones behind the transfer truck. Kristie Jones aided the driver of the transfer truck as Donnie Jones helped Litton. She said they are thankful that both drivers survived, and everyone on the scene played a vital role in saving them.

“It’s everyone working as a team,” Kristie Jones said. “It’s not being a hero to save someone’s life. Isn’t that why God put us here, to help people out?”

Coincidently, Kristie Jones’ sister, Karen Kennedy, was traveling behind Litton’s truck, and called 911, along with others.

At Fellowship Baptist Church, Demers, Davies and Warden were doing yard work.

“We heard the wreck and ran down the hill,” said Pastor Davies. “When we heard the accident, we knew we were the closest ones. We didn’t really think about what we should do, it was a matter of doing.”

Litton’s family is grateful for the good Samaritans and first responders.

“There were dozens of people at the scene trying to free him from the wreck,” said Litton’s brother, Brad Litton. “To have a fast response from the rescue personnel and motorists stopping by was truly heroic on everyone’s part, especially from Donnie and the men from Fellowship Baptist Church.  I can’t even begin to name everyone that was there, but it truly shows there are plenty of good people around.  The Lord was riding with Rob without a doubt in my mind.  While he does have some severe injuries, he’s still upbeat and in good spirits.”

According to Trooper Goard, the driver of the tractor-trailer, Morris Jackson, 52, of Yonkers, New York, was charged with reckless driving/failure to maintain control of a vehicle.

To reach Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 35, or email mrothrock@wythenews.com

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