COAL TOWNSHIP — A man trapped inside the cab of a flipped 10-ton loader was able to place himself on a stretcher and shake the hands of first-responders and onlookers following a 35-minute dramatic rescue Friday evening off West Dewart Street at the Shamokin-Coal Township line.
Bill Tinley, who had numerous scrapes and bruises on his face and hands, said he wanted to “go home” as he was being taken to an ambulance; however, EMS and members of Life Flight, which had landed at Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital, transported him to a hospital instead.
Tinley was operating an older-style Caterpillar front-end loader at 7:16 p.m. on top of an approximate 20-foot culm bank across from his home when he lost control. The loader slid then flipped over, landing on a relatively flat surface just off Dewart Street. Wayne Wagner and Ronald Wickizer, who were at a home nearby, were alerted of the incident and immediately grabbed two vehicle jacks in attempt to free the man.
Tinley was conscious as firefighters placed wood cribbing underneath the loader to stabilize it. He often spoke to firefighters, EMS and Shamokin Mayor John Brown, who was one of the first people to arrive at the scene following a call for help.
Firefighter Jim Catino, who was placed in charge of extrication, said Tinley’s feet were stuck underneath the steering wheel and his shoulder was pinned between the seat back and the roof, which had been crushed.
Catino said firefighters used hand-held equipment to push down the roof of the cab and cut away the steering wheel. Backup plans, he said, were to lift the loader with an inflatable bag and to bring in a wrecker equipment with a rotator from Sunbury to life the whole machine up.
Firefighters were in the process of maneuvering emergency vehicles to make room for the wrecker when Tinley began to crawl out of the cab.
Rescue crews from Shamokin Emergency Squad, Coal Township Rescue Squad and East End Fire Co. in Kulpmont were assisted by firefighters from Independence Fire Co., Friendship Fire Co. and Rescue Fire Co. Coal Township fire chief staff, Shamokin police officers and fire police also responded.
“Look at all the manpower you get when you need something. (It was) an absolute incredible effort and they are all volunteers,” Brown said of the joint effort to free Tinley. “Billy Tinley and I go back a long way. I am really surprised he did not crawl out and walk into his house.”
Catino and Shamokin Battalion Chief Ken Pilkus, who had command, complimented the efforts of the firefighters.
Catino said, “Everyone worked well together.”