Driver survives dump truck crash into a the Alafia River

8:17 PM, Nov 12, 2013   |    comments
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Gibsonton, Florida-- A dump truck driver had to be rescued from the Alafia River by the jaws of life.

Miguel Del Toro, 32, crashed into the river near Gibsonton at Highway 41 and south of Riverview Drive. He was driving northbound when Florida Highway Patrol said his tire blew out.

Del Toro said he lost control of the truck because it was so heavy and filled with dirt.

He plowed through a metal fence and then through a large pile of construction rocks before he flipped into the river. He was trapped inside the cab but managed to survive with only a few minor cuts. 

Del Toro only speaks Spanish so his wife, translated his interview for him.

"He thought he was going to die because he was trying to escape but he couldn't," said his wife Miqueili Tamayo. "He was smashed in between the doors and could not move or get out."

The couple has been married for three years. Tamayo was terrified when she heard he was hurt and could not reach him on his phone.

"Finally the hospital called and put him on the phone and the first thing he said was he is alive," said Tamayo. "He says a woman, Ms. Rojas, helped him and called 911."

10 News interviewed Eveila Rojas after the accident.

"I watched the whole thing," Rojas began. "My dad and I were driving to come onto Highway 41 and my dad said 'wait for him to pass, what's your hurry?', So I waited and it is a good thing I did because that is when I heard a gunshot [like sound], and it was his tire on the driver's side," she continued. 

"Then he started swerving and I saw him go through the metal fence and through the telephone pole and the pile of cement rocks into the river. I rushed over there to make sure he was ok because I just graduated from Concord and I am an inpatient care technician- and I know how to calm people down..."

Rojas then asked Del Toro if he could move his arms and legs. 

"He said yeah, but he was stuck."

She along with several others called 911. Hillsborough Fire and Rescue arrived within 10 minutes and brought Marine and Heavy Operations Units. They extricated Del Toro out of the cab and took him to Tampa General.

He was released from TGH by 3:15 p.m. with only minor injuries.

"He said he can't believe it, he thought he was going to die when the truck crashed," said Tamayo, translating from Del Toro.  

This is the second time in recent months a construction vehicle has gone into the Alafia River.  Back in June, a flatbed truck carrying a bulldozer fell off an Interstate 75 bridge and into the river below. The driver in that accident was hospitalized with serious injuries.

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