LANCASTER (CBSDFW.COM) – A man who stopped to help a driver and child escape a fiery crash on I-20 recalls the frightening ordeal.
When seconds mattered — even before first responders arrived, Dustin Thomas and a small group of men rushed to help; one even lifted the driver of the big rig over a concrete barrier to safety.
Thomas, who delivers tires for a living was on the road as usual that day. Just after 8 a.m., he noticed the big rig that appeared to have crashed into a guardrail, just before Houston School Road. Thomas was traveling Westbound, on the other side of guardrail. He said he felt he had to stop.
“My daughter will be 5 in February and that kid was around 5 or 6 years old,” said Thomas.
As Thomas ran over to the scene, he saw another Good Samaritan carrying a little boy who they believe was inside the sleeper of the 18-wheeler.
Thomas’ attention turned to the driver once he realized the child was safe. He said the driver seemed to be searching for something inside the cab, even as the smoke thickened.
“You need to get out of there,” yelled Thomas along with another man who had stopped. They feared in a matter of seconds the cab would burst into flames.
“The other guy was able to grab [the driver of the 18-wheeler] and pull him across; out of the cab over the barrier,” said Thomas.
Lancaster Police say they believe the truck may have cut a fuel line or ruptured a fuel tank when it struck the guardrail. With the fuel spilled across the highway — the truck caught fire.
Thomas’ wife Dina isn’t surprised by her husband’s swift, admirable response. In fact, it’s not the first time Thomas has jumped in to help at a crash scene.
“When he sees someone else’s kid in danger, I mean that’s the first thing he’s going to do,” she said. “I call him kind of like a hero. He didn’t pull the guy out but he was there.”
Thomas said he’s relieved to come home to his children, Hunter and Abigail. He wanted to give the driver of the crashed big rig and child the chance to go home to their loved ones as well.
Thomas says he extends his gratitude to the other Good Samaritans who like him, stopped when so many others looked on past the flames.
“Pretty scary we had to pull him out of the truck,” said Dustin Thomas.
The driver sustained minor injuries and was taken to the hospital. Both he and the child are expected to be alright.
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