Officer honored for saving lives after tanker truck explosion

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DAYTON, OH (WDTN) – The police officer who was the first to respond to that deadly wrong-way crash on I-75 that ended in a massive explosion is being honored.

A man drove his car the wrong way in the southbound lanes of I-75 on April 30, slamming into an oncoming semi-truck that was hauling gasoline.

Sgt Theodore Trupp was first at the scene.

“I was actually on my way to work,” Trupp said. “I was coming around 75 southbound, I saw a big billow of smoke in the sky, that’s when I noticed a car had crashed into a tanker.”

Eyewitnesses described the incident as terrifying. They say a car was speeding in the wrong lane, passing several cars before merging into the far left lane.

Just movements later, the car hit the truck, head-on.

Trupp was able to get other citizens that were in that area, out of harm’s way, seconds before the tanker truck exploded.

“Pretty chaotic,” Trupp said. “I positioned my car to block traffic from anyone else coming up in the area, I ran up, got my fire extinguisher and did the best I could.”

Trupp was honored at the Miami Valley Crime Stoppers annual awards banquet as officer of the year. Event organizers say Trupp calmly contacted dispatch and worked to secure the area before the massive explosion.

The award ceremony was emceed by WDTN’s very own Mark Allan.

“Trupp’s quick thinking, calm demeanor, and sound decision-making skills undoubtedly saved multiple lives, while risking his own life,” Allan said.

The freeway was closed for hours and lanes were restricted for days while the Ohio Department of Transportation repaired the damage to the pavement and the barrier wall.

“That’s what I strive to do every day,” Trupp said. “That’s why I took this job 15 years ago. I wanted to make a difference, help people, and save lives at the same time.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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