Luke Vaughn and Cody Decker started the night as hapless spring-breaker teens locked out of their condo, but the two 17-year-olds ended it as heroes, dragging the victims of a horrific crash from their burning vehicle Tuesday night.
The two high school seniors had been trying to activate the electric gate at their rental condo in Palm Coast, Fla., when a Jaguar X series careened past them at what they estimated was 100 mph, slamming into a pair of trees. Immediately, Luke called 911 and Cody began sprinting toward the car.
The impact had warped the rectangular sedan into a crescent, nearly splitting it in two in the middle.
On the dramatic 911 call, Luke could be heard panting as he followed his friend to the car, describing the wreck and then muttering, "Oh, my God."
The dispatcher asked how many were trapped. Luke responded that two were trapped. The breathlessness in his voice by that time was gone, and he sounded like a person in control as he relayed what he saw inside the dimly lit car.
Initially, the two told ABC News, they believed the passenger and driver had died. But the moans quickly convinced them otherwise.
"They were begging for their lives," Luke said, "yelling, 'Get us out, it's hot, come on.' You just immediately do everything you possibly can to get them out of the car."
While Luke was on the phone, Cody and another bystander worked the bent car door. They couldn't loosen it enough, so Luke politely told the dispatcher he needed to help. Within seconds, the audiotapes reflect that they were tugging out the woman, Tracy Lopez, and then they freed her.
The flames were licking at them, the heat slamming their faces but, still, Lopez's companion, Carlos Adams, remained in the car, his legs trapped beneath the smashed-in dashboard.
Luke recounted those last few moments to the Flagglerlive.com website:
"It was all we had just to rip him out and drag his legs out and get him to safety," he said. "At that point, the car really just caught fire more, and it just kind of burst. The flames just escalated. You know, as we were getting them out, you could see it, the smoke pouring in, and just pure helplessness, and two people begging for their lives is something we'll never forget."
Finally, the police arrived, then the ambulance.
Both Lopez and Adams were treated for critical injuries, but have survived.
The two high school seniors were hailed by local authorities as genuine heroes.