Driver pulled from burning pickup truck

A man with a heart condition saved a driver's life Thursday when he pulled the unconscious man from a burning pickup truck that had veered off East Antelope Road in Eagle Point and landed 30 feet below.

The pickup driver, Gary Snow, 58, remained hospitalized late Friday at Rogue Valley Medical Center with burns and bruises, a broken collar bone and a fractured foot.

Jerry Morrison, 57, who has heart inflammation and palpitations caused by Still's disease, dragged Snow about 15 feet from the pickup and then went to a neighbor's house to call paramedics.

"He would have died in that accident had it not been for Mr. Morrison," said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters.

Morrison was headed to his home on East Antelope when he saw smoke wafting up from the road. At first, he thought the smoke was the product of a seasonal outdoor burn. As he drew closer, he noticed it was black, a likely sign of a vehicle fire.

"The truck was totally off the road, and no one could see it because it was so far down," Morrison said. "Even my daughter-in-law drove by it earlier and didn't see it. She thought someone was burning brush."

Stopping along the road and climbing down the embankment, Morrison opened the door of the pickup and found Snow unconscious and still buckled in his seat, as the engine burped out flames and smoke.

He unfastened the seat belt and dragged Morrison out of the cab, which was full of smoke because the fire had burned through the floorboard.

"He's a big boy," Morrison said. "I had a hard time pulling him."

By the time, he had pulled Snow about 15 feet away, the pickup was fully engulfed in flames. Bullets that had been inside the vehicle were starting to explode.

Morrison went to a neighbor's house to call paramedics and was able to find a neighbor and another motorist to help him carry Snow farther from the fire.

Mercy Flights responded and delivered Snow to the hospital.

From his hospital bed, Snow said Morrison is a hero.

"I feel thankful to him, and I want to thank him personally," Snow said.

He said he remembers little from the rescue, only a man instructing him to hold on.

Snow is expected to recover.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation, Winters said.

"I did what I was supposed to do; that's all," Morrison said.

In the last 18 years, Morrison said he's helped more than a dozen motorists involved in accidents on Antelope Road's gravel curves.

One of the people he helped in the past was a police officer who responded to the scene of Snow's accident.

The police officer "wrecked his car on this road when he was a teenager, and I helped him," Morrison said. "That's what we do out here. We help each other."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or at Reporter Meg Landers contributed to this story.

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