A Staten Island, N.Y., man is being hailed as a hero after he pulled a man from a car Saturday before it burst into flames following a crash on I-95 in Richmond Hill.
Efrain Acosta was heading south with his wife and children when he saw two cars collide in front of him and go skidding off the heavily-traveled interstate around noon.
“The gentleman in the Honda Civic was in the fast lane and the SUV was in the middle lane,” Acosta said. “What happened was the driver of the Civic put his signal on to go in the middle lane to go around a slower car, the SUV put a signal on to go in the fast lane … and the Civic was T-boned. The car went out of control, off the interstate, totally reversed and hit a tree. I told my wife to stop the car because I thought it would blow up. That’s exactly what happened.”
Acosta got out of his car and ran down to the Civic, where he had to break a window to get the driver from the car.
“He didn’t want me to break the glass but I told him I had to, to get him out of the car.”
Acosta said the driver had a “big bump on his head,” and both he and Acosta fell on a barbed wire fence near the car, causing cuts.
Officers from the Richmond Hill Police Department and firefighters from the Richmond Hill Fire Department and Bryan County EMS responded to the accident, which took place less than a mile north of the Highway 144 exit and sent thick smoke across the interstate while also snarling traffic.
Among those who responded was RHFD Capt. Andy Burriss, who was off duty and taking his kids to a birthday party in Pooler when he learned of the crash. Burriss pulled his pickup over to help.
“(RHFD) responded to a two-vehicle accident in which one car was fully engulfed,” he said. “Upon getting here we found out one person (Acosta) actually stopped to help. By all means, he’s a hero of the day. He went down broke the window and got the guy out right before the car fully ignited. The car is totally gone, totally burned up. So by any stretch of the imagination that guy’s a hero and the reason (the driver) is headed to the hospital with very minor injuries right now.”
Acosta called the incident “scary.”
“The car was on fire. I was afraid it was going to go up,” he said.
The accident was investigated by the Georgia State Patrol.