Driver Sacrifices His Life to Drive Burning Truck Away Before It Explodes, Saving Others

October 13, 2019 Updated: October 13, 2019

A man made the ultimate sacrifice by putting himself in harm’s way to save others.

On March 27, Truck Driver Randall McDougal, 63, was driving his commercial carrier truck on the 88-mile journey from El Dorado to Texarkana.

He noticed the truck brakes were on fire while he was traveling along U.S. Highway 278, west of Camden near the Arkansas Highway 57.

McDougal’s truck was carrying dangerous ammonium nitrate—a highly explosive compound widely used in fertilizer.

According to Marc Lallanilla from Live Science: “If [ammonium nitrate] comes into contact with an open flame or other ignition source, it explodes violently.”

Ascertaining the hazardous situation could lead to a fatal accident, McDougal called 911.

“At 6:38 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Camden Fire Department was dispatched to a tractor-trailer fire on U.S. 278, approximately two miles east of Arkansas 57,” the fire department wrote on Facebook.

To avoid causing harm to others in the event of an explosion, McDougal parked his truck in a remote low-volume road west of Camden, about 100 miles south of Little Rock.

Rather than fleeing the site, multiple witnesses saw brave McDougal help get others out of harm’s way before helping himself, KATV reported.

AREA ALERT: A highway accident this morning resulted in a hazardous materials incident and subsequent explosion that has…

اس پر ‏‎ProMed Ambulance‎‏ نے شائع کیا بدھ، 27 مارچ، 2019

McDougal attempted to extinguish the blaze himself, officials said.

The first fire department personnel began evacuating nearby residents from the area when they arrived on the scene. They witnessed McDougal returning to the truck. Tragically, as he headed to the vehicle, it exploded.

In a Facebook post, ProMed Ambulance said: “A highway accident this morning resulted in a hazardous materials incident and subsequent explosion that has rattled South Arkansas. The explosion occurred around 7:05 AM on Hwy 278 in Ouachita County.”

The impact of the fatal explosion was so powerful that the surrounding trees were leveled to the ground and a massive 15-foot crater was created in the middle of the federal highway.

The blast scattered debris over “the length of several football fields” and shattered the windshield of a fire truck and a school bus, leaving three Camden firefighters with minor injuries.

“It looks like a bomb went off,” Camden Fire Chief Robert Medford told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “There’s a big hole in the ground on where the truck was at.”

According to Magnolia Reporter, the force of the explosion could be felt in El Dorado and Camden, and Magnolia—approximately 22 straight miles from the scene. The residents living nearby felt the earth shake and heard a loud rumbling sound.

The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory later identified the human remains strewn on the site to be what was left of McDougal.

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin extended his condolences to McDougal’s family in a tweet.

‏“My thoughts & prayers go out to all affected, especially the family of the victim killed in the tragic explosion near Camden,” he said in a Twitter post.

In an interview with KATV, McDougal’s son Jason McDougal said: “He was my world and my hero. The man I idolized and wanted to be like since I was born is not in my life anymore.”

Jason McDougal recalled hearing a boom early that morning. His instinct told him to check on his father.

“I was just praying my daddy was OK, and that he would call or text me back like he always has,” he said.

Many social media users lauded McDougal as a hero for putting others before himself in a time of danger.

“Most would have run–that man IS a hero, and I cried reading the reporting that day. He did everything he could to get people away and tried to put the fire out himself,” one user wrote under the comment section of KATV’s Facebook post.

Another commented: “Prayers for his family, the man is definitely a Hero.”

“Oh Jason, I cant even begin to tell you how sorry our family is..My husbands family owns all 4 corners at hwy 57 n 278..I will always be grateful for your fathers bravery..He gave his life to save our family…Jesus how can we ever say Thank you….Your father is all of our hero..May your family have peace knowing we all are so very grateful…” wrote another.

Knowing McDougal died a hero, it brings “some peace” to his family.

“Most legends when they leave this earth leave their mark for eternity for everyone to see, and that’s what my father did,” Jason McDougal said.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Jason McDougal and his entire family.

Randall McDougal will always be remembered as a hero for his selfless act of courage. May he rest in peace.