Ordinary heroes: Two extraordinary rescues from burning cars

A Good Samaritan in Richmond, Va., pulls a man from a burning car. In Florida, two teenage boys rescue a couple after a car crash.

Like the Good Samaritan described in Luke, Robert L. Thompson Jr. was rescued by a stranger.

Early Thursday morning, at about 1 a.m., Thompson was driving southbound on Interstate 195 in Richmond, Va. The police say he was intoxicated. Witnesses say he was going too fast and the car swerved, perhaps to miss a deer on the road. The car "pinballed" between the guard rails before crashing and catching on fire.

That's when a man, who only gave his first name, "Anthony," came to Thompson's rescue.

"I told him, 'You've really gotta get out of the car,'...." Anthony told TV 8News, WRIC in Richmond. "He tried to assist me as much as he could, but his foot got caught on the steering wheel, so I had to try to get his foot free from the steering wheel. We managed to do that. After that, we had to get him out of the car and move over to a safe distance."

Thompson was taken to a local hospital for treatment for minor injuries. He was later charged with driving under the influence.

Earlier this week, another pair of teenage Samaritans rescued a couple after their car crashed near Daytona Beach, Fla.

Luke Vaughn and Cody Decker, both 17, are from Michigan, but were in Florida on a spring break trip with their families. At about 1 a.m. on Tuesday, the boys  were just coming back from returning a rented movie (and a munchie run to Taco Bell). They were having trouble with the key code in the gated community where their families had rented a condo, when Jaguar X-Type sped past.

It "just flies by, I don’t know, 80 miles an hour, so we did a double take to each other—like, people racing in Florida? Is this a common deal? And we’re expecting more people, and they just flew by, then we heard a huge crash," said Luke later.

The boys called 911 and rushed to the scene. The Jaguar had hit two trees and was smoking. The two boys set to work pulling Carlos Adams and Tracy Lopez out of the wreckage. They smashed a couple of windows and pulled on the bent door frame to get the couple out before the car burst into flames. Adams and Lopez were taken to a local hospital, according to the Lansing State Journal in Michigan.

“They stayed calm, acted quickly and removed themselves and the victims from danger,” Flagler County Sheriff Donald Fleming said in a statement.

At a brief ceremony Thursday, Flemming said: “This is an outstanding example of our youth in America today. Seventeen years old, to have that kind of character, to have that kind of courage, to put their own life in jeopardy, I think they need to be commended here today,”

“If this is an example of our generation of young, our future generations are in very good hands,” he added.

Tracy Lopez is out of intensive care. Carlos Adams is still undergoing medical treatment. His mother, Emma, told, “We keep calling these guys heroes, and they are heroes, but to us, they were angels and they are angels sent from God."

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.