FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida driver is expressing her gratitude to the two good Samaritans who came to her rescue after she was involved in a fiery crash on Interstate 95 in Fort Lauderdale.
Betty Grant said she is alive and well thanks to the brave and quick-thinking actions of Carlens Denaud and Eric Fajkis.
“I can’t thank you enough,” she said from her hospital bed on Saturday as she held Denaud’s hand.
Grant became trapped inside her car when it erupted into flames in the middle of the highway near the Oakland Park Boulevard exit, at around 2 a.m., Saturday.
“It was chaotic. The scene, it was really bad,” said Denaud.
Onlookers had no idea what to do.
“Someone in a car, trapped in a fire, not being able to get out,” said Denaud.
As the flames grew high, time was running low. Fortunately for Grant, help would be coming her way.
Denaud, a graduate nursing student, and Fajkis, a retired Pembroke Pines Fire captain, said they stumbled across the scene.
“When I pulled up, I noticed a vehicle on fire,” said Fajkis.
“The first thought I had was, ‘I have to get her out of this,'” said Denaud.
“There was a lot of smoke in the car and a lot of heat,” said Fajkis. “The window was only halfway down. I start pulling on the glass, and with the help of other people, we were able to break the rest of the glass, and we grabbed the driver, the lady, and we dragged her out of the vehicle.”
With plenty of emergency response experience, both good Samaritans knew what they had to do.
However, neither had their lifesaving tools with them, so they had to improvise.
“I was trying to think, ‘What do I have in my car to bring the flames down a little bit?’ And then I thought about what we have on fire trucks: fire blankets! And I remember having towels, two towels, in my car,” said Fajkis, “so I went back to my car, grabbed those towels, and I used one of them to cover some of the flames that were coming next to the driver’s side door, and that gave us a few seconds, actually, to pull the victim, the driver out.”
Moments after they pulled Grant out of the burning vehicle, it exploded.
“The air bags were exploding and shooting debris in the air. The tires were exploding. It was a big ball of fire,” said Fajkis.
After Fajkis got the rescue going, Denaud started recovery efforts.
“I already knew what to do, what to check first — whether or not she was conscious, if she was breathing properly, if there was any obstruction — and that’s what I did,” said Denaud.
Denaud suffered some burns to his face.
“But nothing that I can’t handle, so I’m OK,” he said.
Because of these good Samaritans’ selfless actions, Grant will be able to see her daughter again.
“Thank you so much. Thank you for saving my mom’s life,” Grant’s daughter told Denaud.
Out of this rescue, a friendship has been born, as two heroes became connected through courage.
“It feels good to be able to save someone. I wouldn’t call myself a hero, just a normal citizen doing something good,” said Denaud.
“There’s nothing greater in the world, nothing greater, than saving somebody’s life,” said Fajkis.
There was another car involved in the crash. The driver of that vehicle suffered minor injuries.
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