Driving home from work at Levain Bakery in Wainscott, N.Y., Sunday evening, a crowd protesting outside East Hampton Airport caught bread baker Craig Schum's eye.
Schum, 33, stopped to investigate the protest over aircraft noise at the airport -- and his curiosity may have saved two lives.
Minutes after he got out of his car barefoot, as he liked to be after a long day on his feet, trees across the street shattered as a plane fell from the sky.
"My first thought was, 'That was a plane crash,' and that was pretty much my last thought," Schum told ABCNews.com.
A gut reaction propelled him forward, and he rushed through the nearby woods to see what happened.
"I did not make a conscious choice to help," Schum said. "That crappy cartoon stuff is really true. I was just going, I was running barefoot through the woods."
Steven Bochter, 51, and his female passenger, Kim Brillo, had taken off from East Hampton Airport a few minutes earlier to head back to Taunton, Mass., but ran into trouble shortly after they were airborne.
East Hampton Town Police Chief Ed Ecker said the pilot was trying to return to the airport when the Mooney single-engine plane crashed in the woods about 100 yards east of Daniels Hole Road, which borders the airport.
As Schum ran across the street to try to reach the victims, he came to a deer fence, 12 to 14 feet in height. Seeing its expanse left and right, he quickly decided the only way to go was over.
"One of the only thoughts I remember having was at the top, thinking, 'You shouldn't jump over this.' But then I jumped."
By the time he got to Bochter and Brillo, the entire front of the plane was engulfed in what he said were five- to six-foot flames. Bochter, the pilot, was stumbling next to the plane covered in blood.
Brillo was still stuck inside.
She was unconscious when Schum got to her, and also covered in blood.
"I believe[d] her to be dead," Schum said.
He managed to pull her out of the plane before the rest of the aircraft caught fire about a minute or two later.
"I'm covered in her blood and she's just covered in blood and [Bochter]'s aware enough to recognize that she's hurt, and he says her name, 'Kim, Kim," Schum said. "So I hold her hand, and I'm sort of holding her head and saying, 'Kim, you're going to be OK. Everything's alright."
Brillo started to move her head at their words, and they realized she was still alive.
Schum held her as he ran to back to the fence to try to get help.
"I've been told that I carried her 500 yards," Schum said. "I thought it was 20 feet."
Another witness had made it to the scene to help and, together, Schum and the man pulled the stakes out of the fence and pushed the victims through.
Paramedics, police and the East Hampton, Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor fire departments responded to the emergency and airlifted Bochter and Brillo to Stony Brook Hospital, where they are still recovering and in stable condition.
Ecker credits the quick reaction of those already on the scene for helping save the victims' lives.
"Thank God there was some immediate response from people at the airport," Ecker said.
Schum's mother, Donna Fraser, told ABCNews.com she was proud of her son, but concerned about him after the traumatic incident.
"I kind of wish I were there to give him a big hug," Fraser said.
"He does tend to be somebody who will help someone in distress, you know?" she said. "Animals, people, whatever, but certainly not ever anything like this. But he's got that about him."
Schum said he would head to the hospital today after work to check on Brillo and Bochter.
"After all this is over, I'm going to the hospital, because I want to give this girl a hug," he said. "That's all I want, to give this girl a hug and make sure she's OK."