A middle school teacher saved a man who uses a wheelchair from a vehicle just before it was engulfed in flames in Manchester, Connecticut.
Heather Sica-Leonard, a teacher at Illing Middle School, was driving on Interstate 384 eastbound when she noticed a van had pulled over to the side of the road and saw smoke coming out, NBC Connecticut reported.
“I was just reacting to what looked like a driver struggling and a vehicle smoking. I had no idea the fire had started because it was the lower side of the dash,” she told the outlet.
Sica-Leonard told WMUR it struck her as odd that the driver hadn’t exited the vehicles, prompting her to ask herself, “…why is he not out of the car yet?”
“Something just didn’t sit right with me,” she recalled.
Manchester Fire Rescue EMS (MFRE) explained in a Facebook post that the driver, John, who has limited mobility and uses a wheel chair to get around, had pulled over after he “smelled smoke, then moved a cup holder to find flames coming from his dash.”
“[Sica-Leonard] immediately stopped [and] approached the burning vehicle … at great personal risk to injury,” the post continued.
“When I saw it, I asked him if he was struck. He said ‘No. I’m handicapped. I need my chair.’ So I grabbed his chair, helped him get in and then moved away from the vehicle,” she told NBC Connecticut.
WMUR reported the van “burned to the ground” just moments after Sica-Leonard rescued John.
The MFRE later determined the fire had occurred as a result of a fuel tank rupture.
“Her actions averted an almost certain fatal outcome and prevented anyone from being injured.” the MFRE concluded, congratulating the good samaritan on her life-saving actions. “Well done Heather!.”
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