March 12, 2019 9:03 pm

Bystanders, driver of crashed vehicle dubbed ‘heroes’ for freeing other driver from burning truck

The driver of this pickup truck survived thanks to three 'heroes' who helped pull him to safety, says Port Alberni's fire chief.

Courtesy: BC Hydro

Three people are being hailed as heroes after leaping into action to free a man trapped in a burning vehicle on Vancouver Island on Tuesday.

What’s more, one of the three had himself been involved in the serious crash.

The head-on collision between an SUV and a pickup truck happened around 7:30 a.m. on Highway 4 between Port Alberni and Nanaimo.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island man shares story of being trapped inside truck for five days

Police believe the eastbound vehicle crossed into the westbound lane, causing the crash and one of the vehicles involved to burst into flame.

Nick Labadie, a BC Hydro employee, was one of the first people on scene and ran with another bystander to try and extricate the driver of the pickup truck through the window, as the door was stuck.

“The gentleman was conscious, he was in obvious pain and wanted to get out as the flames were coming up fast. He was able to un-click his seat belt which gave us quite a few seconds,” he said.

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“He wanted out, and he was in pain. He was saying he had a broken arm for sure… he [was] panicking because he couldn’t get out of the vehicle.”

But while Labadie and the other Good Samaritan were able to pull the driver half out of the window, his foot was jammed on something inside the vehicle.

Port Alberni Fire Chief Mike Owens said that is when the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash stepped up.

“What’s really compelling about this is that the driver of the SUV actually crawled out of the passenger side of the SUV, came around to the pickup truck, which was on fire, and assisted in freeing the gentleman’s leg, while two other bystanders pulled the individual out of the driver’s side window, saving that individual’s life,” he said.

READ MORE: From rescued puppies to Good Samaritans: Global BC’s heartwarming stories of 2018

Other bystanders, including an off-duty paramedic then jumped in to help. Labadie said by the time they started doing first aid on the pickup truck driver, his vehicle was completely engulfed in flame.

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Both drivers were taken to hospital, but Owens said the SUV driver was released later on Tuesday. The pickup truck driver’s condition remains unknown.

Owens said firefighters are now looking at finding a way to recognize the Good Samaritans.

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