Driver of dump truck dies after truck crashes into home
Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler says the driver of a dump truck died after it crashed into a house in Suqualena Wednesday.
The accident happened around 11:30 a.m. on Highway 494 near Suqualena Drive.
The truck crashed into the residence, which then caught fire.
Authorities identified the victim as Otho "Gerald" Matlock. Lauderdale Co. Fire Coordinator Allan Dover said Matlock was driving a truck that belonged to Newton County.
Neighbors described the deadly scene as something out of a movie.
"I've never seen anything like this in my life," said Penny Zerbel, a neighbor who called 911.
"Well, I was headed out to take my mom to an appointment she had and I heard a loud explosion outside," said neighbor William Denton. "So I stepped outside and my neighbor's house was on fire and I see a dumpster truck overturned in the driveway."
Penny Zerbel and her husband live next door. She described what she heard.
"My husband was inside on the chair and couch and we heard this large boom," said Zerbel. "Sounded like a boom or a sonic boom."
Investigators are still unsure what caused the crash and if Matlock died while driving.
"I looked out the window and saw smoke. So I ran out on the porch and the truck was already on fire. Completely on fire. The front of the house was on fire and had been knocked into," said Zerbel. "So I ran back in to grab my phone and call 911. When I came back out, it was just all ablaze."
The homeowner, Patrick Douglas, was at work at the time of the crash. He declined to talk on camera, saying he's in shock.
"He has been cutting out grass for us and he works as a painter. And he wasn't home, thank the Lord, at the time. We know it had to have been immediate, the way the fire engulfed the truck," said Zerbel of the driver's fate. "And then it was a big boom where it blew up a couple of times. So he didn't have a chance."
The case remains under investigation.