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Local Good Samaritans rescue man from burning vehicle

Local Good Samaritans rescue man from burning vehicle

A man reportedly incapacitated by a medical condition was rescued from his burning vehicle late Thursday night by residents of Dripping Springs after drifting off US Highway 290.

The incident took place about a quarter of a mile east of Trautwein Road, around 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22. The man’s identity has not been released by the Hays County Sheriff’s Office for privacy reasons. He was driving a white pickup truck when the accident happened.

Hays County first responders received a report of a vehicle fire on the US highway. 290 in Dripping Springs,” Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler said. “Before first responders arrived, William (Bill) Fults, Bridget Roberts and Matthew Hilton sprang into action near Dripping Springs and rescued the incapacitated driver from the burning vehicle. This selfless and courageous action saved the driver’s life.”

Fult was the first on the scene and was two cars behind the driver of the pickup when the truck “swerved out of its lane, went off the road and went up an embankment, just missing the guardrail.”

“I called 911 from my car and they told me the fire department and ambulance were on their way,” Fult recalled. “But it was pretty clear that the man didn’t get out and the car was full of smoke. There was no chance he would have survived in that taxi with the door closed.”

For Fult, a former Ranger and U.S. Army medic, his first instinct was to take action.

“The grass around the vehicle wasn’t on fire, so I went downstairs and opened the car door,” he continued. “Obviously he had a medical condition and was unable to get out of the car. He was unresponsive and his arms were tangled in the steering wheel and seat belt.”

Just then, passers-by Roberts and Hilton came down the embankment to offer assistance and help Fults carry the man from his burning vehicle. They carried the driver up the embankment and onto the shoulder of the road before taking him to a safer location along the main road.

Fults speculated that the driver’s left front tire may have come off the wheel, causing the fire in the wheel arch.

“When we took it out, the flames were all the way to the back of the front tire,” Fults said. He remained unresponsive until the fire service arrived. When they gave him some oxygen, he started answering questions, but it was pretty clear that he didn’t know what was happening.”

Fults said that while the incident was dangerous, it was reassuring for him to see the prompt response of others in his community.

“These were neighbors helping neighbors,” he said. “The other two people were young, in their twenties, and most people consider children that age to be self-righteous or unconscious. But there they were, standing next to me in front of a burning car.”

Fults himself was assessed at the scene by paramedics for smoke inhalation and was released.

“I’m no worse for the wear,” he said. “Just cough a little.”

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