Ohio Man Wrecks into 200 Ft. Deep Gorge, in Critical Condition


FREDERICK COUNTY, Va. - Fire and rescue personnel aren't exactly sure how the accident happened, but they said Mark Jenkins, 52, of Dayton, Ohio is lucky to be alive.

Jenkins was heading southbound on U.S. 522 North (North Frederick Pike), around 8 a.m. Wednesday, when he drove his tractor trailer into a 200 ft. deep gorge, near Fout Lane.

"When the first volunteer chief from Gainesboro arrived on the scene, he found a driver that was severely entrapped in the cab of the tractor,” said Karl Steudl, battalion captain for the Frederick County Fire & Rescue Department.

Deputies said Jenkins was hauling recycled plastic bags to Trex in Winchester, when he ran off the highway. He cleared trees and telephone poles before becoming airborne, and eventually landing in the ravine.

Officials think the trailer vaulted over the tractor, pinning Jenkins in the cabin.

The plastic bags Jenkins was carrying, may have saved his life. Fire and rescue personnel believe the lightweight load and cushioning from the plastic bags prevented the trailer from completely crushing the driver.

"If the load had been heavier, we believe the risk of crushing the driver would have been much more severe,” said Steudl.

It took crews about an hour to get Jenkins out from under the trailer.

“We had to use hydraulic extrication equipment. We had to use a lot of stabilization, because the trailer was somewhat unstable. And then we just had to start cutting, piece by piece, the sheet metal and various parts of the tractor away from the driver."

Although his injuries were severe, Jenkins was conscious during his rescue.

"He was able to talk to us. [He was] able to figure out how he was injured, [and] what was injured on him. He wasn't able to give us a whole lot of detail about how the accident occurred," said Steudl.

Crews cut Jenkins free, and brought him in a pickup truck to a nearby helicopter. Jenkins was airlifted via AirCare 4 to the trauma center at Fairfax Hospital, and rushed into surgery.

"I have no spoken to any witnesses, our dispatcher says that it was a ‘passerby’ who called it in," said Steudl.

Officials believe that witness may have saved Jenkins' life.

The accident is still under investigation. No charges have been filed at this time.

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