Driver of food truck goes from victim to hero in New Jersey crash

WEST ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- After surviving a crash that shut down part of a New Jersey highway for hours and left multiple people injured, one man went from victim to hero.

Despite being in the middle of a horrific accident scenes in Tuesday's crash, Dave Gilenson feels happy to be walking and back at work.

The multi-vehicle collision happened on Eastbound I-280 on Tuesday morning.

"I feel grateful that I'm alive. I feel very sad that other people were injured," Gilenson said Thursday.

He was driving east on 280 when he saw a police road block due to a crash.

He stopped his burger food truck on time, but then he said cars suddenly went flying and he didn't even know what hit him.

What hit him was a state trooper vehicle that was apparently pushed into his food truck by a dump truck that was out of control.

"I'm lucky to be here, I can't believe it, I can't imagine if that dump truck was just 6 feet more to the right, he would have rear-ended me instead of the police car," Gilenson said.

He said there was no warning the dump truck was heading in his direction. He didn't even realize the dump truck had come by and slammed into police vehicles, passenger vehicles, an ambulance and a fire truck in front of the ambulance.

But he saw the truck burst into flames.

"When I finally got out of my vehicle and saw the flames....man I prayed that that guy got out of the truck," he said.

The dump truck driver was saved, but once Gilenson discovered he was uninjured, he jumped into action and set up a tent to help the injured victims.

"I handed out ice to people that were holding their hands, holding their heads," he said.

In all, 14 people were injured including police and fire personnel. One West Orange firefighter remains hospitalized in critical condition, but he is expected to survive.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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