By Tim Fleischer Editor-in-Chief
Salado native Allen Sirois was working on the loading dock at McGregor Welding Supply in Belton when he heard an explosion.
“The earth shook,” he said. “I’m not kidding. It sounded like a bomb.”
Sirois looked up in time to watch a cement truck, which had a passenger side tire blow out, hit the metal barricades leading to the flyover of I-35 NB to Highway 190 WB in Belton.
The cement truck flipped over and landed in the median on the driver’s side.
“I saw that it was crashing so I grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran toward the truck,” Sirois said. “We have a lot of fire extinguishers.”
By the time he got there, the truck was already in flames, ignited by diesel fuel.
The cab of the truck was crushed and the driver, Melvin Belcher was trapped inside.
“He was stuck,” Sirois said. “He couldn’t crawl out the windows either.”
The passenger side door was stuck, too, but Sirois — who had crawled on top of the truck despite it being in flames — was able to force the door open.
“He was caught up in the seat belt and couldn’t crawl out,” he said. “I reached down and grabbed him around the arms and pulled him out.”
By that time, there were two others on the scene before ambulance and police arrived: Manuel Magadan, a 2018 SHS graduate and Manny Alvarez, another employee at McGregor Welding Supply.
Manuel and Manny helped Sirois get Belcher off of the truck and away from the flames that were spreading quickly. He suffered minor injuries including burning his arm.
Just as Sirois was pulling Belcher out, the diesel on the passenger side tank exploded, spraying him, Belcher and the door. “I got lucky,” he said. “It could’ve been a lot worse.”
Sirois is the son of Stephanie Hood of Salado and grandson of Monroe and Linda Moore of Salado.
It could have been much worse for Belcher, too, had Sirois not been so close by.
“I think if we got there a minute later, it would have been too late,” he said.
Sirois went in, he says, for the “same reason anyone would. I would hope someone would do it for me.”