Fort Worth paramedics pull woman from burning truck just before it explodes

Posted Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Audio: Listen to a 911 call about the accident

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FORT WORTH -- If medics Robert Long and Kayden Bathory had arrived seconds later, they and the woman in a burning pickup might have died right there on the freeway median early Thursday.

"It was all perfectly timed," Long said at a news conference later Thursday.

"We had just left the hospital at the right time, got to our spot at the right time, were looking at the screen at the right time and were traveling the right way on the freeway. Everything just fell into place.

"If it had been five seconds longer it would have been a lot different."

MedStar paramedic Long, 25, and emergency medical technician Bathory, 26, had left a patient at a Medical District hospital just after midnight and were returning in their ambulance on Interstate 30 to their staging post on Cherry Lane in far west Fort Worth.

At 12:49 a.m., they got a call about a vehicle crash in the median of Interstate 30 at Chapel Creek Boulevard not too far ahead of them.

A witness who called 911 said the pickup's driver had been trying to get onto the freeway and "for whatever reason didn't take the ramp."

The truck went into the center median and flipped, coming to rest upright on top of the steel cable that divides the westbound and eastbound lanes, the caller said.

"It's sitting upright on the guide wire," he said. "It's on fire now! It's catching on fire big time now!"

Bathory said the truck was engulfed in flames as he and Long pulled up, the first responders to get to the wreck.

They grabbed a "standard-size" fire extinguisher from the ambulance, and Bathory tried to put out the flames while Long tried to reach the driver.

"That didn't work very well," Long said.

Bathory gave up on the extinguisher, and the two men grabbed the driver to pull her out.

The heat drove them back a couple of times.

"So we pulled on her, then had to step back, then pulled on her again, then had to step back," Long said. "We weren't sure we were going to get her a couple of times."

Each pull brought the woman a little farther out of the truck's cab. With a final heave, they pulled her free and dragged her about 15 feet before a explosion knocked them off their feet.

The fire had reached the pickup's gas tank.

The woman was unconscious but breathing, and they worked to stabilize her.

She was flown in critical condition to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

Fort Worth firefighters who arrived within minutes doused the pickup fire.

Staff writer Domingo Ramirez Jr. contributed to this report.

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

Twitter: @fwstevans

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