Police Chief George Meyer presented Sgt. Elwood Benner with the award at Monday night’s Township Committee meeting

Thursday, April 17, 2008 11:33 AM EDT

By John Tredrea, Staff Writer, Hopewell Valley News

Elwood “Woody” Benner, a sergeant with the Hopewell Township Police Department, has been given the department’s Life-Saving Award for helping a severely injured truck driver after a bizarre accident.

Police Chief George Meyer presented Sgt. Benner with the award at Monday night’s Township Committee meeting. About a dozen uniformed township police officers attended.

On the afternoon of Feb. 21, a Central Jersey Waste and Recycling truck lost its brakes on a hill on Amwell Road. The driver, Lee Hood, 51, of Trenton, jumped out of the truck just before it hit a bridge. The truck ran over one of Mr. Hood’s legs. The leg was subsequently amputated at an area hospital.

When Sgt. Benner arrived, Janet Landau, a woman who had been driving behind Mr. Hood’s truck, was at the stricken trucker’s side, trying to comfort him. Ms. Landau resides in Hopewell Township.

”When Sgt. Benner arrived, the trucker was lying in the road. He had lost a lot of blood from what was obviously an extremely serious leg injury,” Chief Meyer said Monday.

With Ms. Landau’s help, Sgt. Benner used Mr. Hood’s belt as a tourniquet.

”This prevented the loss of a lot of blood and possibly saved the trucker’s life,” Chief Meyer said. “Sgt. Benner told me he was quite impressed by what Ms. Landau did during what was obviously a very stressful situation.”

Sgt. Benner thanked his colleagues for attending the brief award ceremony. “I work for a wonderful department,” he said.

Trucker badly injured after brakes failure

Trenton man was on recycling run on Amwell Road

Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:41 AM EST

By John Tredrea, Staff Writer

Lee Hood, 51, of Oliver Avenue, Trenton, radioed his fellow workers to get out of the way because his 32-ton truck’s brakes had failed on a steep hill.

Then, moments later, he jumped out of the careening truck as it crashed into the abutment of a bridge under which the truck could not fit. As he hit the pavement, the truck ran over his leg, crushing it.

Police say Mr. Hood underwent surgery Tuesday night, but officers were unable to provide any further details about his condition.

Hopewell Township police Chief George Meyer said the accident occurred shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday. Mr. Hood, who was picking up recycling, was driving south on Amwell Road, just east of Hopewell Borough, in Hopewell Township. He was operating a 2000 Mack truck of the type used for residential garbage pickup. The rig, owned by Central Jersey Waste and Recycling, based in Trenton, was carrying a load, but it is unknown if it was completely full. The gross registered weight for the truck is 64,000 pounds.

Chief Meyer said investigating Officer Vincent Amabile learned that Mr. Hood was alone in the truck. There were two trucks working in the area and Mr. Hood’s crew was with the second truck. As Mr. Hood’s truck began to descend a steep hill, he realized the brakes on the truck had failed.

Faced with this daunting scenario, Mr. Hood thought of others. “He radioed to the second truck, which was in a driveway ahead of him, to stay out of the road because he could not stop,” Chief Meyer said.

The truck ran down the hill and continued along a flat section of Amwell Road until it struck the bridge abutment. The total distance traveled was approximately one-third of a mile.

”The truck was too tall to fit under the bridge, and it is believed the driver was attempting to jump from the cab of the truck when it hit the abutment and the bridge,” Chief Meyer said. “As the driver jumped and the truck hit the bridge, the front wheel of the truck ran over the driver’s left leg, causing a severe crushing injury.”

Mr. Hood lost a considerable amount of blood. Sgt. Woody Benner, the first officer to arrive, found Mr. Hood lying in the road. He used Mr. Hood’s belt as a tourniquet on the injured leg, preventing further blood loss.

Mr. Hood was taken to Capital Health System’s Fuld Campus trauma unit by the Hopewell Emergency Medical Unit. They were assisted by Capital Health System paramedics on route to the trauma center.

The truck was impounded for examination by the New Jersey State Police Commercial Vehicle Unit. The CSX Railroad operates the rail line that crosses the road. CSX engineers are examining the bridge for structural damage.

The road was closed to traffic for several hours.