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Men ‘lucky to be alive’ after one encounters downed power lines during rescue try

The Camaro sheared a power pole before coming to rest.

News Staff Writer

Note: Updated to correct victim’s name

Two Atmore-area men came close to seeing their last New Year’s Day when one stepped on live power lines while trying to rescue the other from a single-vehicle wreck that occurred in the predawn hours of the new year.
Atmore police, Nokomis firefighters, Alabama State Troopers and an ambulance crew responded around 3:51 a.m. Sunday after a nitrous-oxide injected 2011 Chevrolet Camaro — its driver reportedly racing up and down U.S. 31 and James Road in apparent celebration of the year’s changeover — crashed and brought any celebrating to an end.
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Public Affairs Coordinator for Lower Alabama, Sgt. Jeremy Burkett reported that the super-charged vehicle was driven by 30-year-old LaDarrell J. McCants of Atmore.
The car left the fog-shrouded rural roadway in the 1900 block of James Road, near Timber Lane, and jumped a residential driveway. It then traveled an estimated 160 feet through the air, shearing a power pole near its summit before coming to rest in a wooded area.
Rico Stallworth reportedly raced toward his friend’s crumpled car to see if he could help, unaware in the fog and darkness that high-voltage power lines virtually surrounded the car.
“The driver’s friend, Rico Stallworth, went to help and was electrocuted by the downed power lines,” Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Jerry Gehman said. “He suffered significant burns and was unconscious when I got there but started breathing on his own while we were still setting up the AED (automated external defibrillator). He is very lucky to be alive.”
Although most people associate electrocution with death, the term is actually defined as “death or severe injury caused by electric shock from electric current passing through the body.”
Gehman said Atmore Police Department officers, first to arrive on the scene, were responsible for reviving Stallworth.
“They witnessed the electrocution, and they saved his life,” the firefighter said of the unnamed city cops.
Police Chief Chuck Brooks is reportedly recuperating from an extensive medical procedure and could not be reached for comment on the reported heroics of his officers.
Gehman lives along U.S. 31, near James Road. He said he had a premonition that the driver of the souped-up car might be flirting with disaster as 2022 ended and 2023 began with a steadily thickening fog across the area.
“The crazy thing is, I heard him racing by my house, then on James Road, earlier,” he said. “Somehow I knew he was going to crash.”
Stallworth and McCants were taken in separate ambulances to area medical centers. Neither’s condition was known at Tuesday’s press deadline.
“I can’t believe they are still alive, or that they were alive when we put them in the ambulances,” Gehman said.