One man was killed and another seriously injured when their truck, which was carrying a boom crane, went off King Hill Road in the V.I. National Park around 7:30 a.m. Friday.
The accident closed King Hill Road, the eastern access road to the island’s popular North Shore beaches, from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
“It looks like he lost control,” St. John Rescue training officer Bob Malacarne said of the driver.
He said it appears that the truck was traveling downhill on a “bone dry” road, hit the embankment on the right side of the road, swerved to the left and rolled over. He said the truck slid down the road before going off the left side of the road.
“It landed against a tree,” Malacarne said, indicating it was about 30 feet down the hillside.
He said it took six hours for crews using the Jaws of Life to extricate the seriously injured man from inside the cab.
“We had to cut the truck in half,” Malacarne said.
Malacarne said the injured man was transported directly to the Roy L. Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas. Police Department spokesman Kevin Jackson said the man remained in stable condition at the hospital.
He said he did not have names for either of the men, but indicated that they may not be from the Virgin Islands.
“They may not be familiar with the road,” Jackson said.
The road makes several sharp turns as it heads downhill.
Jackson said the crane was traveling to Cinnamon Bay to do some work for the park.
The deceased man, who Malacarne said was the passenger, was trapped between the truck and the tree on the driver’s side. The emergency responders were unable to get his body out.
A heavy equipment operator from St. John arrived on the scene to try and lift the truck, but Malacarne said he was unsuccessful. Greg Podany, acting chief ranger at the national park, at 5:30 p.m. said the deceased man’s body was removed at about 4:20 p.m. after a crane truck called to the accident scene lifted the vehicle up.
“They had to cut the crane off to pick up the truck enough to get the individual out,” Podany said.
Podany said the truck parts were still at the accident scene but he expected crews on Saturday to cut them up into smaller parts to remove them.
Jackson said the accident remains under investigation.
Malacarne had high praise for the crews from both St. John Rescue and the VI Fire Service, who worked for six hours to free the trapped driver.
“They stuck with this guy. It’s absolutely phenomenal what these guys did,” Malacarne said.
The VI Police Department, St. John EMS and park staff also responded to the accident.