What started as a visit to a car repair shop turned into the chance to save someone from a burning car for California native Sharon Vise.
Earlier in the week, Vise’s bumper guard had been stolen, and she had decided to get it replaced on a Tuesday morning. Vise was driving through the canyon to the repair shop when her drive suddenly became a lot less peaceful.
“I saw debris start flying into [and] over the guardrail,” Vise stated, “and then the car came into view.” Vise watched a car slam into the wall of the canyon and then roll back into the street. It stopped upright with the driver inside, unable to move. Upon seeing the flames underneath the engine compartment, her instincts prompted her to act. In that moment, Vise remembers leaping out of her car and rushing to the totaled vehicle. Once she got the driver side door open, she saw the driver “unconscious and moaning.” Vise knew that he was alive, and she felt a responsibility to keep it that way.
She struggled to pull the man out of the car on her own. “I could get him partially out of the car,” Vise says, “but I wasn’t strong enough to get him completely out of the car.” As she attempted to pull the driver from the car and the spreading fire, a tow truck driver came up to help. Together they got the driver out of the car.
The fire under the engine compartment had grown, enveloping much of the car, and the heat from the flames was becoming too much to bear. The two decided that it was not safe to be as close to the car as they were. They pulled the driver further away from the vehicle. A few minutes afterward, emergency services arrived, but by that time, the car had been completely engulfed by flames. Vise said, “I would hope that someone would do the same for me and not wait for a first responder because it would have been too late. He wouldn’t have made it out.” First responders were still crucial, though, reducing the severity of the driver’s injuries from major to moderate and non-life-threatening.
Vise admitted that her father’s life experience was a part of the reason that she felt motivated to risk her life to help this stranger. Her father had been in a fire and had suffered burns that changed his life. When she was faced with an opportunity to ensure that someone else didn’t have to endure the same gruelling experience, she couldn’t help but take action. “I can’t see that happen,” she said, “and so it was just personal because I wanted to make sure he was out of there.”
Vise also left some wise words about helping others for anyone who hears her story: “We all have to depend on each other. We’re all responsible for each other. And so, if you’re the only one there – you’re it.” Since officials believe that the driver hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt, Vise also mentioned that she hopes the story will encourage people to wear their seatbelts.
Featured Image by Marcel André Briefs on Flickr
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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