Overland Park man hurt while pulling driver from burning car wreckIf a hero is someone who risks life and limb to save another person, then Timothy McCarthy, 22, qualified Tuesday morning.
By: By Jim Sullinger and Robert A. Cronkleton/The Kansas City Star, Mo., Superior Telegram
If a hero is someone who risks life and limb to save another person, then Timothy McCarthy, 22, qualified Tuesday morning.
McCarthy ran toward a burning car that had crashed about 1 a.m. Tuesday in Overland Park. He pulled the driver, who was on fire, out of the vehicle. Using his hands, McCarthy beat out the flames that were dancing on the driver's head and shoulders.
However, two people died in the fiery one-car crash, which occurred on West 151st Street near Metcalf Avenue. The driver whom McCarthy pulled from the wreckage was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Police have not released the names of the victims. However, teenagers who left flowers at the accident scene Tuesday afternoon said the two persons who died were seniors at Olathe South High School.
McCarthy, of Overland Park, sustained severe burns on his right hand, but he's not so sure he feels like a hero.
"In some sense, yes," he said. "But in another sense I don't consider myself a hero, because the other two didn't get out."
The car was heading east on West 151st at high speeds about 1:10 a.m. when left it the roadway just east of Metcalf, striking a power pole and clipping the garage of a house, police said. The car then rolled several times and burst into flames as it came to rest in a yard.
McCarthy was sitting on his couch talking with a cousin when he heard squealing tires, a bang and then an explosion.
He could see the fiery wreck from his house and called 911 as he ran toward the burning car.
"I couldn't just stand there and watch somebody burn to death," he said.
He approached the car and saw movement on the driver's side of the front seat. The car was sitting upright with the door closed.
"I reached inside the car, grabbed him by the arms and pulled him out the window," McCarthy said. "He was on fire."
McCarthy tried to encourage the driver to "drop and roll," but it didn't do any good. He began working furiously to put the fire out.
"I just ripped off his sweatshirt and both his shirts," he said.
At that point he heard some smaller explosions coming from the burning car and knew he had to get the driver farther away from the vehicle.
"I actually got him to stand up. I don't know how," McCarthy said. "I got him to the edge of the sidewalk, and that's where he lay until the police arrived."
McCarthy suffered burns on both hands in the rescue, but the right hand was burned the worst. He was treated at a hospital and continued treatment at a physician's office Tuesday afternoon.
McCarthy expects to make a full recovery from his injuries, but the ordeal has deeply affected him. He has been given a week off from his job as a service technician for a vending company.
Police told McCarthy the car was burning so fiercely that he couldn't have saved the others even if he wanted to.
The driver "was the only one I saw, so that was my first priority," McCarthy said. "I didn't see anybody else. There were just flames."
Copyright (c) 2010, The Kansas City Star, Mo./Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.