The semi, which was carrying forklifts, jackknifed early Wednesday morning. Slick roads could have played a factor, police said. The 59-year-old semi driver and a passenger got out before the wreckage exploded and sent a fireball up over I-57. However, the driver was still close to the fire, and was burned. He was listed in stable condition Wednesday afternoon.
"When I got out here, first I heard a big boom, ran down, and the truck was sideways. I believe he hit the guardrail or whatever, and fire everywhere. Police saved his life. There was a big explosion going on. Smoke and fire was everywhere. It was like a big fireball," said Roy Sconyers.
Chicago Police Officer Mark Davis was off-duty and out of his jurisdiction when he stopped to help.
"When I came off the ramp I saw a whole bunch of flames and I was like, 'Wow, that's bad,'" Officer Davis said. "I feel good anytime I can help people. That's one of the main reasons I took this job as a police officer."
Ambulances and state police weren't there yet, so Davis put his ongoing investigation on hold and leaped out of his unmarked car. He moved the driver away from the fire.
"I noticed the flames were getting real hot and I didn't want to be there by the flames. So at that point I said, 'Look we are going to lift him up and move him back.' So at that point I picked him up and dragged him off to a safer area where he wouldn't be affected by the flames," Officer Davis said.
The driver has burns to his feet and hands and cuts on his face.
"I had to make a decision that I don't want to hurt you, but I need to get you away from this area," Officer Davis said.
The driver was taken to Stroger Hospital and treated for minor injuries.
I-57 was closed for about two hours early Wednesday morning.