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Citizens step up to save man from fiery crash | News

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Citizens step up to save man from fiery crash

(WBIR- Oak Ridge) A group of people stepped up to save a man from a fiery car crash in Oak Ridge over the weekend.

Oak Ridge Police Department said a van went off the road on Oak Ridge Turnpike and hit an above ground natural gas pipeline around 1:45 p.m. Saturday, which then started a gas line fire.

Oak Ridge resident Daniel Mealer said he was driving westbound on Oak Ridge Turnpike when he spotted the gas fire.

"I went down there to see if there was anything I could do to help," Mealer said. "It's the right thing to do, and thankfully I was able to help the other good Samaritans with the victim."

Mealer said he worked for the Oak Ridge Fire Department for a couple of years so he was familiar with emergency situations.

"The first thing I saw was the gas leak, and it was on fire so it was a little unsettling seeing that and being so close to the car," he said. "And there was probably a group, maybe five to seven of us, down there, which was another concern of mine because there could be multiple victims if something did happen as far as an explosion."

Mealer coincidentally bought a window punch last week that he was able to use to knock out a window of the van to pull the driver, Knoxville resident Thomas Debusk, to safety.

"I'm just thankful that I did have some training to deal with situations like this," he said. "Thankful for the window punch, and even more thankful that I had other people around me to help out."

Oak Ridge Police said Animal Control Officer Sara Walter was working a nearby event at the time of the crash and worked with Mealer to pull Debusk to safety.

The group was able to move themselves and Debusk away from the dangerous area a few minutes before police, firefighters, and EMS arrived on scene.

"It's pretty amazing, especially having some years in the fire service," he said. "It's pretty amazing to see strangers come together not knowing each other but being able to work quickly and efficiently with one another to help somebody in time of need."

As of Sunday morning, Debusk was listed in serious condition at UT Medical Center.


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