Dramatic rescue of driver following multi-vehicle crash on Gowanus Expressway

BAY RIDGE , Brooklyn (WABC) -- Firefighters made a dramatic rescue after a multi-vehicle accident on the outbound Gowanus Expressway left at least one person injured and a car upended.

As many as four vehicles collided on the westbound Gowanus Expressway at Seventh Avenue in Bay Ridge at around 6:15 a.m. Thursday.

One car was crushed between another vehicle, which was left standing upright, and a truck.

Following a 30-minute extrication, the person in the crushed vehicle was removed and taken to Lutheran Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

The Gowanus outbound at Fort Hamilton Parkway had all lanes closed but they were reopened around 8:30 a.m. The inbound HOV lane also was closed.

Delays stretched back to Staten Island over the Verrazano Bridge.

The one driver who had to be freed by the FDNY is being treated at NYU Lutheran Medical Center. He, according to those who got to him first, is very lucky to be alive.

"I've never seen it with this outcome. A condition like this where somebody actually survives," said Lt. Pat Mitchell of Ladder 109.

Where the driver of that red car was trapped as his car is crushed around him by a truck carrying a dumpster that plowed into him on the Gowanus Expressway.

"The driver was still inside. Ladder 109 started with their Jaws of Life," said FDNY Battalion Chief Martin Ford.

It was a frantic but well-coordinated effort by firefighters who discovered that the driver in the red car was miraculously alive. They saw his fingers sticking out of a small crevice as he cried for help.

"Just please get me out of here," said Lt. Mitchell of the driver's response. "Please get me out of here. We got the windshield out, was able to reach in and talk, he said please just get me out of here."

Firefighters then began using the "Jaws of Life" and two other powerful cutting tools to cut away small pieces of the car.

"We relieved the pressure on his legs. He started to calm down a little bit," Lt. Mitchell said.

The chain reaction accident was caused when a tow truck stopped to help a vehicle on the Gowanus in a westbound lane. An SUV then smashed into the rear of the tow truck. As the red car crashed, the SUV was pushed into a precarious vertical position.

The red car was then crushed like an accordion by the truck, pinning the driver.

"An area about three feet by three feet I'd say and that's where his upper body was. He was lateral across the seats with his legs underneath the dashboard. And he just wound up in a lucky position," said Lt. Mitchell.

They tore apart the car in small sections seen in photos from the FDNY that clearly show the destructive force of this crash.

They worked to free the driver for nearly an hour. He was then rushed from the scene to NYU Lutheran Medical Center.

"It turned out to be a great ending," Lt. Mitchell said.

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