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‘Heroic’ rescuers race to pull driver out of flaming car on Louisiana road, video shows

Witnesses of a fiery car crash on Airline Highway in Garyville, Louisiana, dragged a driver from a flaming car window early Monday in a rescue caught on video, the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office said.
Witnesses of a fiery car crash on Airline Highway in Garyville, Louisiana, dragged a driver from a flaming car window early Monday in a rescue caught on video, the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office said. Screen grab from Facebook

Two cars that crashed on a Louisiana highway Monday burst into flames — but witnesses didn’t wait for first responders to start rescuing one of the drivers, video shows.

A call to authorities reported a vehicle “swerving all over the road” before 7 a.m., and soon the cars collided and caught fire, the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post on Monday. The crash happened on Airline Highway in Garyville, WVUE reports.

Video posted by Anita Haley (and shared by the sheriff’s office) shows what happened next: A group of three and then four people desperately tugged on the person in the driver’s seat of the flaming car, and then — when she was successfully out — carried her to the grassy median away from the wreck.

Witnesses can be heard clapping after the rescue, as the billowing fire consumes more and more of the white car.

Haley wrote on Facebook that she witnessed the crash on her way in to work. She commended the good Samaritans for their “bravery and compassion for someone in a desperate situation.”

The sheriff’s office said the people who helped the woman in the car “approached this vehicle without regard for their own safety.” The rescuers were not identified, but deputies said they “received burns and sought treatment.”

Authorities said the woman was hospitalized, but only had minor injuries, WBRZ reports. Troopers said the other driver involved in the wreck was impaired and will face DWI charges, according to the TV station.

A spokesperson for state police said the driver who caused the collision was 22-year-old Richard Preston II, and that he crashed into the back of the woman’s car while speeding, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

Preston was injured and hospitalized as well, but has been released and is set to be booked at a jail in nearby LaPlace, the newspaper reports.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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