Paramedic’s vehicle trashed in pileup, driver helped others before himself
Other arriving first responders unaware driver was victim in crash
A Texas paramedic went from victim to first responder in a massive crash during the recent cold snap in the state. Now Toyota has gifted the helper a new vehicle to replace the FJ Cruiser that he lost in the pileup that included more than 100 vehicles.
Trey McDaniel was driving to work on I-35 near Fort Worth, Texas, when, as he told NBC5, when he became involved in the crash, attributed to black ice in an area not accustomed to freezing temperatures. “I happen to look up in my rearview mirror and I’m watching a semi-truck barreling towards me full speed,” he said. “It looked like it was trying to stop. There were sparks flying. But it was full speed. I thought it was my time at that point. I just kind of braced for impact.”
His 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser was sent airborne, landing on the opposite side of the express lanes, McDaniel said. He crawled out of his wreckage, cut, battered, and bleeding, and was soon met by firefighters who saw his uniform and assumed he was working the scene.
“They figured I was there as part of that ambulance crew that had just rolled in. They had no idea,” he said. “And, you know, my first thought was I’m walking, I’m ambulatory. What do I need to do?”
“I checked on a couple other vehicles,” he said. “This was while I was trying to get my bearings. I mean everything was dizzy and fuzzy and all this. I wanted to make sure everybody else was OK. I definitely went into rescue mode. That’s all I really know how to do.” He said remembers loading at least two patients onto backboards.
Later, he said, first responders realized that he was part of the crash, not the response, and he was sent to the hospital for treatment.
“You do this day after day, it’s ingrained in your head to help people right off the bat without thinking,” he said. “That’s kind of what I did, in the moment.”
Then a representative from Toyota’s corporate account on Reddit saw McDaniel’s story about the crash. The company said that “we’re just glad you’re safe and inspired that you chose to help others in need. We’re happy you’re part of the Toyota family. So, don’t worry about replacing your vehicle – it would be an honor for us to get you a new one!”
This isn’t the first time Toyota has offered owners new vehicles when they stepped up in a disaster, including giving a new Tundra pickup to a nurse who melted his old truck helping people to evacuate last year’s wildfires in California.