Black smoke poured from the wreck, with flames erupting across the highway.
The fireball formed Aug. 11, after the driver of a Lincoln Town Car failed to yield while merging in 70-mph traffic along the I-10 Freeway in Gulfport, Mississippi. The car collided with an 18-wheeler, crashing into the truck’s gas tank.
Trucker David Fredericksen approached the crash, stopping his vehicle a safe distance away.
“Holy cow!” his partner Walter Letterman said. “That guy’s dead, dude.”
“You want me to go out there and see if I can get him out of the car?” Fredericksen said.
“No, what are you gonna do?” Letterman said.
Fredericksen paused. “I got a fire extinguisher,” he said.
So he grabbed the fire extinguisher and jogged to the wreckage site, calming the flames. Letterman and other good Samaritans followed.
Fredericksen saw that the people inside the Town Car – a 51-year-old woman and a 1-year-old baby, reportedly the woman’s grandchild – were trapped inside.
“We noticed there was a lady in the front, kicking the front seat – the door, trying to get out, and when we opened the door I noticed a 1-year-old little girl in the back seat,” Fredericksen said. “She was pretty happy when I grabbed her out of there.”
Fredericksen carried the child to safety first, and others joined the rescue. “We got them both away from the car, and it just went up in flames,” Letterman said.
The fire left nothing but charred metal behind. Scott Swanson was driving the truck involved in the accident. “I don’t know how we all made it through that,” Swanson said tearfully.
The woman and toddler suffered only minor injuries, police said.
Authorities say Fredericksen’s quick thinking saved the day, coming to their aid minutes before first responders arrived.
“When you see something like this, you have no other choice,” Fredericksen said.