Three Hurt As Dump Truck, Car Collide On Hwy. 79 In Guntersville

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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) -- Two children and a man were seriously hurt in a head-on collision Thursday, when a car and a dump truck crashed in Guntersville.

It happened on Highway 79 around 7:30 a.m., just north of Cherokee Elementary School near the intersection of the highway and Steel Ford Road and Indian Hills Drive.

A loaded dump truck traveling north collided with a Honda Civic.  The car spun back towards Indian Hills Drive where it stopped against a bush.  The truck veered right at Steel Ford Road and slid down an embankment.  Police estimate the drop was 60 to 100 feet.

"Fortunately, given the extent of the wreck itself, the passengers in the car have serious injuries but they do not appear to be life threatening," Police Chief Jim Peterson said.

"The driver of the dump truck, obviously when you see it, could have caused serious injuries to him.  We understand the driver has a back injury, mainly from the ride he took off the embankment before it came to rest against a tree."  He said the truck rolled once.

About a dozen first responders and a wrecker with a winch performed a rope rescue to extricate the driver, identified by police as 52-year-old Mark Allen Henry of Guntersville.

"The incline there is quite steep so it's more efficient and safer for the patient for them to actually pull him up by rope and on the skid stretcher," Peterson said.

Paramedics took Henry to Huntsville Hospital, and said he has a head laceration as well.

Investigators said the gravel truck did not appear to be overloaded or speeding.

Peterson said a 16-year-old girl was driving the car, with her 10-year-old brother riding.

A helicopter took the girl to Huntsville Hospital and the boy to a hospital in Birmingham.

Family friends identified them as Madeline and Miller Arnold of Guntersville.

Peterson said at 4 p.m. Thursday their families were with them as they waited for surgery.

Removal of the dump truck from the embankment was not an easy task, but a crew from Whitaker Towing pulled up the 13-ton truck.  Others worked to clean up the area.

"There was a moderate amount of diesel fuel and some engine oil that was spilled, through no fault of the dump truck driver.  EMA came out and assessed the scene," Peterson said.

"The company is taking care of the first few inches of soil to remove the contaminated area.  We're going to place some sand due to the rain that's projected for the afternoon, to help with the diesel fuel that spilled on the asphalt," he said.

Police closed Highway 79 from Cherokee Elementary School to Willow Beach Road for nearly four hours, so they could clear the scene without trucks having to deal with traffic.

It reopened in time for parents to get in line to pick up children as school let out at 12:30.