Pitt's Dixon discusses Parkway North rescue

| Monday, Oct. 25, 2010

University of Pittsburgh men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon played a reluctant hero today while discussing his role in helping motorists involved a crash on the Parkway North.

"I did what anybody else, I think, in Pittsburgh would have done given the situation," Dixon said at a news conference at the Petersen Events Center in Oakland. "I think a number of people would have done the same thing. In fact, I know they would have."

Diane Robinson, 48, of Zelienople was in fair condition Sunday at Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side after the Ford Escape she was riding in crashed Saturday night, authorities said. The sport utility vehicle was traveling north when it swerved from the left lane to the right, crossing two lanes of traffic, striking a concrete barrier and rolling onto its passenger side, police said.

The driver fled the scene after being extricated from the vehicle, state police said.

Dixon said he watched the crash happen while driving behind the SUV.

"My initial thought was that nobody was going to survive," he said.

Dixon said he was the first on the scene because he was the first car behind the SUV. Several other people, including a corrections officer, stopped to help, Dixon said.

He heard no noises coming from inside the vehicle but saw smoke, which he later learned was due to the airbags deploying. There were no flames, Dixon said.

One occupant began kicking the windshield to escape. Dixon grabbed the busted windshield and pried it back, allowing the person to escape.

Dixon said he suffered minor cuts to his hands.

He said he then turned his attention to an unresponsive female occupant still in the vehicle. She came to within moments but was stuck, Dixon said. He remained with her until emergency workers arrived a few minutes later.

"I didn't know how many more people were in there," Dixon said. "That's what I was trying to find out."

Dixon said several people at the scene recognized him, as they kept referring to him as "coach." Still, he said he didn't consider the seriousness of the event or his role in helping until players were talking about it at practice yesterday and several people left voice and text messages on his phone.

Dixon said he has not spoken to anyone involved in the crash but is happy no one was seriously injured.

"You just knew there were going to be some injuries," Dixon said. "I'm just glad that everybody seems to be all right and there were no deaths."

As for discussing his role in the rescue efforts, Dixon said he had to be talked into it by Pitt officials.

"I really don't want to be doing this," he said as the new conference started on the Petersen court.

Dixon commended police, fire and emergency officials.

"They were there quickly, within minutes," Dixon said. "I may have been the first one there, but they did the brunt of the work."

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