AKRON-- Police are crediting two men for saving the life of a driver whose SUV burst into flames following a crash along route 224 early Thursday.
According to police reports, Min Nyi, 34, of Akron was travelling westbound on the highway about 2:30 a.m. when he hit a guard rail, continued travelling forward on the highway, then tumbled down an embankment crashing into a tree.
His 2007 Hummer H-3 came to rest on its passenger side.
A short time later, John Duckworth was returning home after working a late shift. Duckworth said he saw the Hummer and stopped to investigate but he didn't immediately see anyone inside.
"At first nothing. I could hear music pounding on the roof, the windshield finally saw the driver and he turned down the radio and I was yelling at him, asked if he was ok," said Duckworth.
Nyi apparently gave Duckworth two thumbs up from the passenger seat where he ended up trapped inside the Hummer.
Several other people had also stopped, including Chris Ford of Seville.
"I had walked up to my car and another guy had stopped and walked down and then I heard a pop and saw the smoke coming out from underneath the hood."
From a 911 call it was less than two minutes from the time smoke first appeared until flames were rapidly engulfing the Hummer with Nyi still trapped inside.
Ford started trying to kick out the windshield, but the window did not budge.
"He just kept kicking and kicking and it just wouldn't; it wouldn't break," said Duckworth who remembered he had a baseball bat in his trunk.
"I let someone use it last fall for a softball league and they gave it back and it was in there," said Duckworth.
Five swings of the bat later and Duckworth says there was a large enough hole in the windshield to reach in and drag Nyi out.
"It was frightening, just trying to hurry up and break the window and pull him out and get him out of there," added Duckworth.
By then, the first police officers had just arrived and report that the Hummer immediately burst into flames.
"Just as they got away from the vehicle and our first cruiser pulled up on scene the vehicle exploded," said Akron Police Lieutenant Rick Edwards.
"The car was fully engulfed and exploded and without these two people there to help him and pull him from that vehicle, he would have died," said Edwards.
Nyi was taken to Akron General Hospital where he was reported to be in serious condition on Thursday.
Duckworth said both he and Ford cut their hands on the glass getting Nyi out, but that was the least of their concerns at the time.
"Just glad I was there," said Duckworth.
"He should be thankful that these two guys happened to be at the right time at the right location," concluded Edwards.