RICHLAND COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – A woman survived a fiery crash thanks to highway “saviors,” the FOX 8 I-Team has learned.
Several strangers stopped to help the woman and risked their lives to help her.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the crash happened around 7:45 p.m. Friday on I-71 South in Richland County when the driver lost control of the vehicle she was driving, struck a culvert and a cable barrier. The car then went back on the highway and was struck by a truck, troopers said.
“I was in the left lane, just looked ahead and I saw something in front of me, thought it was rain mist turned out it was a vehicle facing me,” said Tony Pechatsko of Strongsville.
Pechatsko and his wife, Kristan, were on their way to Dayton with their kids when they saw the disabled vehicle.
“We got out and ran up to the car,” Pechatsko said. “Another gentleman shortly after that, joined me and we looked inside the car to see if someone was in there.”
Pechatsko said a woman was in the vehicle and was not conscious. He said due to an air bag being deployed it was difficult to get her out. He said he started to head back to his vehicle to get some tools to help get the woman out when they noticed the engine was on fire. He said someone had a fire extinguisher and was able to put it out. However, the fire started again.
“Flared right back up,” Pechatsko said. “It was even higher this time.”
He said two men were able to get the woman out.
“They reached inside and they attempted once and couldn’t get her but by the time I got there they had the her legs close enough to get her to the door,” Pechatsko said. “Me and another guy carried her off and tried to get her as far away as we could.”
Within three minutes the car was engulfed in flames.
“The men left after that and I was not able to get their names,” Pechatsko said. He said two women also stopped to and stayed with them until fire and EMS arrived.
Mifflin Township Fire Captain Dave Markel says the woman was injured and taken to a hospital, but she is expected to make a full recovery.
“When we arrived the car was engulfed in flames,” Markel said. “What the bystanders did was life-saving. She is very fortunate that people stopped and helped.”
Troopers say the 39-year-old woman was cited with operating a vehicle while impaired and failure to control a motor vehicle. The crash remains under investigation.