Watch the above VIDEO of Brian Patterson.
Two men are credited with saving the lives of a mother and daughter involved in a fiery crash on Leroy Coffer Highway, Friday, July 8.
In a statement, Georgia State Patrol Public Information Director Lt. Michael Burns said troopers from Post 11 in Hinesville responded to a two-vehicle crash on Leroy Coffer Highway (GA 196) at Rogers Pastures Road in Liberty County at 3:33 p.m. Friday. A dump truck had turned onto Leroy Coffer Highway from Rogers Pastures Road, directly into the path of a passenger car. The passenger car, traveling west on Leroy Coffer Highway, struck the dump truck and caught fire.
Liberty County Fire Chief Brian Darby said two men, Brian Patterson and Leaga Sua, were instrumental in saving the lives of the mother and daughter trapped in the burning car.
“I would like to thank these two gentlemen for their heroism,” Darby said. “Without their selfless service, the two occupants would have surely died in the vehicle.” Patterson said when he saw the ball of fire, he jumped out of his truck and sprinted toward the car. He said the driver was halfway out, and he helped pull her free before learning that her daughter was still in the car. Patterson said he ran over to the passenger side door, and all he could see was the girl’s arms.
“So, I grabbed her arms,” he said, and pulled her from the burning car and to a safe distance.
He ripped off his shirt to put out the fire on the young girl, to no avail, so the men used a fire extinguisher provided by the driver of a semi-truck who had also stopped at the accident site.
Patterson said his military training kicked into gear and he did everything he knew possible to keep the victims awake and from going into shock.
“They both just wanted to go to sleep, and it wasn’t a good idea,” he said, adding that after watching a video someone had taken of the scene, it was like having a flashback to his days in Iraq.
Patterson said he never thought about the possibility of being injured himself.
“I’ve got eight combat tours with lots of rockets, mortars and explosions,” he said. “I didn’t even think about it. I just ran out there. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Darby said Sua, an employee with the Liberty County Board of Commissioners, was at a stop and, after witnessing the accident, got out of his vehicle and ran over to help Patterson pull the driver’s daughter from the vehicle, then used an extinguisher to douse the burn victims. Sua sustained minor burns to the hair and skin of his arms.
Darby said both men stayed with the mother and daughter until EMS arrived.
Burns said the occupants of the car received serious burns and were transported to Memorial Hospital in Savannah. The daughter was later sent to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta.
The driver of the dump truck was not injured.
The roadway was closed for several hours due to cleanup efforts.
Together We Rise, a local non-profit founded by burn victim Kat Arnsdorff, supports burn victims and their families during the hospitalization, recovery and healing process. The organization is sponsoring the family and is requesting donations to meet the family’s needs.
The Coastal Courier will be a drop-off site for these donations. The office, at 125 South Main St., Suite B, in Hinesville, is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m, and Friday, 8 a.m.–noon.
For monetary support, a family friend has set up a GoFundMe account, identifying the mother as Christina Tschantz and the girl as Alexa. The account states the young girl has burns across 65 percent of her body and will be at the burn center for months.
To donate, visit https:// gofund.me/310ee12e.