Public officials say seat belt, smoke detectors saved lives

Wanda English Burnett

Firefighters from the Versailles department had a busy and cold 12 hours that began with an accident on US 50 Thursday evening, January 12. From the accident scene where the driver was wearing his seat belt to the fire where the homeowners were saved by smoke detectors, it was clear to those helping with the incidents that these devices work.

A semi tractor-trailer had rolled onto its side about 10:27 p.m. Thursday evening according to information from Ripley County Communications. The driver, Francisco Estrada, 50 of Tiffin, Ohio, was still in the cab when officers arrived on the scene.

Police say the trailer he was pulling broke loose from the tractor and flipped upside down releasing its load of steel coils. The trailer came to rest blocking both lanes of US 50 near the Versailles State Park entrance just east of Versailles.

The two coils of steel went into the ditch on the north side of the roadway.

The driver told police he was going westbound when he came around a curve doing about 45mph. He said he ran off the north side of the roadway and into the ditch. He complained of soreness in his hip and chest, but was not transported to the hospital. He said he was thankful he was wearing his seatbelt.

Deputy Steve Sullivan was assisted at the scene by officers from the Indiana State Police, Versailles Police Department, Milan Police Department, Versailles Fire and Rescue 69.

Members from the Versailles Fire Department were on the scene until about 2:30 a.m. on Friday, January 13 as they assisted with lighting and clean-up. Their day continued when they were called out that same morning to assist New Marion Volunteer Fire Department with a house fire a few hours later, around 7 a.m.

Firemen responded to the home of William and Carol Seals at 5662 South County Road 450 W. When Versailles firefighters arrived the house was fully engulfed in flames.

Chief Ben Sieverding told the Osgood Journal that weather conditions were a major concern and he was thankful “no one was injured in the fire or fighting the fire.”

Five fire departments came together to provide water supply to fight the fire. Sieverding noted that firefighters were also fighting the cold conditions as more than one of the fire hydrants usually used for water supply were frozen or inoperable.

The occupants of the home, William and Carol Seals and their daughter, were sleeping in the house and were alerted by smoke detectors in the residence. “Fortunately no one was injured in the blaze, the house was a total loss,” noted Sieverding who said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

“This fire could have had a tragic outcome without the working smoke detectors that woke the family from their sleep,” Sieverding concluded. He encourages everyone to make sure they have working smoke detectors in their homes.

Responding to the fire were Versailles, New Marion, Holton, Friendship and Osgood fire departments.