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WEST VALLEY CITY — A group of strangers jumped into action Thursday afternoon and pulled a man from a burning car. Utah Highway Patrol officials say the man would have died without the quick thinking of those driving by.
Witnesses to the accident on state Route 201 near 5600 West were shocked to see flames shooting out of a crashed car — and even more shocked to realize someone was trapped inside.
Mike Burke drives along S.R. 201 multiple times a day, but he's never come across a nightmare in progress like he saw around noon on Thursday.
“There was a gray car along the fence and flames coming out of it,” Burke said. “The doors were locked."
"(The driver’s) foot was on the gas; and with that friction of the tires spinning, the car went up in flames,” said UHP trooper Andy Battenfield.
The driver was apparently suffering from a medical condition, unconscious inside the burning car. Emergency help was still minutes away.
“Tires were popping and bursts of flames were coming up,” said Troy Favero, who works nearby and also ran to help. He used a fire extinguisher on the growing inferno.
“(The driver) was in there for a while, and there was a lot of smoke inside,” Favero said.
Risking their own lives, Burke, Favero and a group of other good Samaritans approached the hatchback sedan.
“I just hopped out of my truck, grabbed my golf club and hopped the fence. And that’s when we broke the windows out of it,” Burke said.
“We reached inside and undid his seat belt and pulled him out,” Favero said.
“It was fortunate, and they did the right thing — and it took a lot of courage,” Battenfield said. “I think they put their own safety to the side.”
The heroic group said the event has affected them all deeply and they are praying for the survival of the stranger they rescued.
“We’re just happy that we were able to help him,” Favero said.
“No questions. I would have done it for anybody. I’d do it again,” Burke said.
Friday evening, family members of the man rescued from inside the car said he was listed in critical condition at a local hospital and not doing very well. They asked that KSL News pass along their thanks to those who helped him.
The injured man’s name was not released.