Lifestyle & Human Interest

3 Days After Giving Birth, Brave Mother Helps Rescue Semi Driver from Burning Tanker Carrying Jet Fuel


A truck driver is alive and in critical condition after being rescued from his overturned oil tanker that exploded on an Indianapolis freeway Thursday afternoon.

Holly McNally is one of the three heroes who ran toward truck driver Jeffrey “Duke” Denman, who she says was on fire after his semi-truck flipped over, WXIN reported.

McNally, who gave birth to a son just three days prior to the event, had been leaving the hospital with her mother after visiting her baby in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“I slowed down, and I saw the actual semi on fire, and I look to the front of the semi and I see a man on fire,” McNally told WXIN.

“And I’m scanning and people are videotaping and watching, but no one was going over there. So I told my mom ‘I’m stopping, I’m going over there.’”

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McNally said she was joined by another good Samaritan who worked to put out the fire that was consuming Denman’s body.

As the trio started to evacuate the scene, McNally realized that her shoes were soaked in a strong-smelling liquid.

“We got him out, and we start to walk away and I see this huge stream of liquid and I could smell it,” McNally said.

“I said ‘Jeff, honey, what were you hauling?’ And he said ‘jet fuel.'”

Four thousand gallons of jet fuel poured down over the freeway, creating a massive fire and thick plumes of black smoke.

“We’re trying to carry him down and it’s getting closer and closer and the second explosion went off,” McNally said. “Smoke was hitting us and I was just praying like ‘God, please let us get out of here so I can see my baby.”

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On Monday, McNally delivered her own baby, Connor, who came earlier than anticipated, according to a video report by WXIN.

On Thursday, she was racing toward a blazing semi-truck to save a man’s life.

“Without question, those good Samaritans saved this driver’s life,” Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine told WXIN.

Denman, 59, was badly burned and taken to the hospital in critical condition, the station reported.

On Friday, trucking company Jet Star Inc. issued a statement about the incident, thanking those who saved Denman’s life.

“We would like to thank everyone for the amazing outpouring of support, prayers and concern for our driver Jeffrey “Duke” Denman following yesterday’s tragedy involving one of our trucks on the east side of Indianapolis,” the statement read.

“We are grateful that no one else was injured or involved. We would also like to offer a heartfelt “thank you” to the brave “Good Samaritan’s” that rushed to aid our driver and help him escape from further harm.”

“We would also like to thank all of the first responders and various public safety agencies involved, firefighters, EMS, EMA, law enforcement and INDOT,” the statement said. “Thank you for your continued support and thoughts and prayers for our driver.”

McNally said she was thinking of her son as she decided to stop and help the driver.

If her son had been the one on fire, she would have wanted somebody to do the same.

“I wish everybody was like that you know? I mean everybody should help everybody,” the brave mother said.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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