DEC lineworker rescues trapped driver from overturned vehicle

January 21, 2023

In the early-morning hours of Dec. 22, Delaware Electric Cooperative Hot Bucket Crew Chief Ben Salisbury was responding to a power outage when he came across an overturned vehicle outside Greenwood. He quickly assisted the driver and saved a life.

On his way to the Georgetown outage, Salisbury noticed debris in the road, which led him to an overturned car on Shawnee Road just outside Greenwood. Immediately, Salisbury pulled over and called DEC dispatchers, asking them to call 911.

Salisbury then approached the car, where he found a young woman, upset but conscious, trapped in the driver’s seat. With some effort and the woman’s help, Salisbury was able to free her from the car and escorted her to the safety of his bucket truck.

Within minutes of the woman’s removal from the vehicle, a van made impact with the overturned car at full speed, pushing it down the road and sending the van off into the neighboring field. Salisbury called DEC dispatch again, reporting the second accident.

Using safety cones stored on his truck, Salisbury quickly created a perimeter around the scene. Wearing his reflective vest, he flagged down oncoming traffic to prevent any further accidents from occurring. Fortunately, both the young woman and the van driver sustained only minor injuries.

Without Salisbury’s quick action, the incident could have had a very different ending, said Mark Anderson, DEC manager of safety and security, who serves as deputy chief of the Greenwood Volunteer Fire Company. “There’s no doubt in my mind – and I have been in the fire service for many, many years and responded to many vehicle crashes – if that driver had stayed inside that vehicle and been struck by the approaching van, there is a very good chance they would not have survived, or would have been in serious condition. In my eyes, Ben Salisbury is a hero,” said Anderson.

Salisbury credits his quick response to the various safety trainings he has received from DEC over the course of his career. “The training we get here is important. I saw it work,” Salisbury said. “You’re hearing it over and over at different times, and then when the time comes, you don’t even have to think about it; it just happens. Your brain remembers what you’ve learned.”

DEC President and CEO Rob Book said, “We have an incredible employee team, and Ben’s actions to save the trapped driver’s life demonstrate the very best of our co-op. We’re so proud of Ben, and thankful his bravery and quick thinking meant someone got to spend Christmas with their family, instead of in the hospital – or worse.”

Salisbury said the night of Dec. 22 is one he’ll never forget – he’s just grateful he could use his DEC training to make a difference.

“It makes me feel good that she was able to go home and spend Christmas with her family. I rode by where it all happened the next day, and I thought, ‘That whole thing could have ended with a marker and flowers.’ You start really thinking about how fast things change,” Salisbury said. “Between me and her, we’ll never forget it.”

Delaware Electric Cooperative is a member-owned electric utility powering more than 112,000 homes, farms and businesses in Sussex and Kent counties.

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