New details emerge about accident that killed a Pike firefighter

VehiclesBoxingDisasters and AccidentsAvalanches and LandslidesKevin Miller

Officials are continuing to investigate an accident that led to the death of a Pike Township firefighter Thursday.

James Shelly, 35, was killed when a box truck rear ended a semi, then crossed the center line and smashed head-on, into his Chevy Avalanche. His two boys were in the truck with him. His wife, driving behind, saw it all.

Fox59 spoke Friday afternoon with the man who pulled Shelly's boys out of the truck and who was one of the last people to speak with Jim Shelly, before the firefighter died.

"It was unrecognizable.  I mean, there was just, it was bad,"  Kevin Miller said recalling the Chevy Avalanche's condition.

Miller was driving westbound, when the accident unfolded right in front of him. The driver of the yellow box truck later told police that he'd fallen asleep at the wheel while heading east on Pendleton Pike.  His box truck tagged a semi-trailer in front of him and then the box truck weaved across Pendleton, slamming head-on into Jim Shelly's west-bound Avalanche, just ahead of Kevin Miller's truck.

"After it hit the Avalanche, it came up on end and landed on its side and it was so close, I thought the truck was going to land on top of me, on top of the truck I was driving."       

Jim Shelly's wife, who'd been traveling with her daughters in a separate car, saw the accident, too.  She tried to approach the wreck, but Miller stopped her.

"She got out of her van screaming that her babies were in that truck," he said. "I had her sit down on the ground, 'cause she didn't need to go over to the truck, especially the way the truck looked and if those boys were hurt, she didn't need to see that."  

As he approached the truck, Miller could see Jim Shelly was still alive, but pinned in the wreckage. Miller said Shelly had just one thought on his mind.
"He just wanted to make sure his boys were okay.  That's what he was worried about."
So Miller worked to free the firefighter's sons.  

"The one in the back seat was completely out of his seat belt.  It had knocked him out of his seat belt and he had a gash on his head."  

The other boy was unconscious, but came to before both children were carried over to their mother.  

"I couldn't even come close to imagining what she went through yesterday,"  Miller said.

Jim Shelly died at the scene, just a short time later.  Funeral arrangements have not been set. His boys remain at the hospital, and were in stable condition at last check.

The driver of the box truck that caused the accident, 21-year-old Scott Milbourne, has not been charged with anything.  The investigation is still on-going.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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VehiclesBoxingDisasters and AccidentsAvalanches and LandslidesKevin Miller