Exclusive: Tow truck drivers unsung heroes after Cross Bronx tractor-trailer crash

BRONX (WABC) -- Tow truck drivers are unsung heroes, and never was that more evident than in Monday's crash on the Cross Bronx Expressway that left a tractor-trailer dangling precariously over the Sheridan Parkway below.

It tied up traffic for hours, and luckily, the driver made it out safely with only minor injuries. But now, Eyewitness News is speaking exclusively with the tow truck driver who had the difficult job of lifting thousands of pounds of metal and steel, and preventing them from falling to the highway below.

When Autorama Enterprises first got the call of an overturned semi dangling off a roadway, Phil Blumenthal didn't think much of the situation. But when he arrived, he realized he was dealing with something he had never seen before. So he came up with a plan to make sure no one got hurt, and then, he got to work.

"We have to trust each other, because we're a team," he said. "We set up, put the chain to the hook, got it tight, and we were ready to go."

With laser sharp focus and nerves of steel, the Autorama Enterprises team tackled a situation even they admit was challenging.

Blumenthal gave a play by play of how his team was successfully able to raise the roughly 30,000-pound big rig, including a nail-biting moment when his colleague, Quito, was standing on top of a white minivan without a harness. The men had to get a chain around the back end of the truck.

"I'm standing next to him because God forbid he slips, I'll grab his leg," Blumenthal said. "So I just want to make sure he's confident in what he does, not to be iffy about it. So I reassured him, 'You're OK, just work it over, I'm up here with you. Let's work it together. We'll work it together and get the job done.'"

The truck was leaning on that minivan and the heavily-damaged side rail, and it appeared it could go over at any moment. And during the final stage, as they raised the cab of the truck that was leaking diesel rule, smoke started spewing.

"The battery actually was on fire," Blumenthal said. "But they were there already, and the wire melted and that was it."

The driver of the tractor-trailer, 55-year-old Pablo Lopez, needed seven staples in his head and had a sore neck, but he otherwise escaped serious injury. null
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