Off-Duty Firefighter Spots Blazing Truck on Highway. Pulls Man's Injured Body from Flames


Emergency responders work to help people who are in serious medical or other dangerous situations. Their job is to save as many lives as possible while minimizing the risk on their own lives.

Some rescue service members take their jobs very seriously. Ensuring the safety of others is what they do for a living, so it’s no surprise to see these community heroes work off the clock when needed.

A 4-car collision in Chehalis, Washington, displayed one these random responses on Tuesday morning, Feb. 6. That day, James P. Holmes, 54, was driving southbound on Interstate 5.

Somehow, he lost control of his 1998 Dodge pickup truck and ran into the barrier that separated the north and southbound lanes. Holmes was then struck by two semi trucks, which caused him to roll and catch on fire.

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Soon after, a fourth vehicle, holding three passengers, hit the barrier that had been pushed into the northbound lane. Only one person sustained minor injuries.

State patrol identified the truck drivers as 41-year-old David A. Hawkins and 62-year-old Warren E. Cortesi.

The first one was taken to the hospital after going into cardiac arrest while the other suffered no injuries.

As for Holmes, his vehicle immediately caught on fire following the multiple impacts. Fortunately for him, an off-duty firefighter — identified as “Chris” — spotted the blazing truck on the highway.

He was actually on the way to work when he came across the accident, but got out of his car to help Holmes, who had sustained a head injury.

“He pulled him out of the truck and started administering first aid,” said Chief Ken Cardinale of the Chehalis Fire Department.

After saving Holmes’ life, the firefighter remained on the scene to assist paramedics. “He was a great help to everybody,” Cardinale added.

The crash led to a major shutdown on the highway. A hazmat team was called out to clean up the construction supplies scattered by Holmes’ truck.

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They also had to maintain one of the semis. But they later confirmed the area was secure.

While he may face charges, it’s unknown if drugs or alcohol caused Holmes to lose control. It would provide an explanation as to how this situation got so quickly out of hand, but sometimes life just throws some major curveballs.

An update of his condition was never released, but fortunately, he survived the devastating incident thanks to Chris’ quick and timely actions.

Regardless of why the crash took place, Chris was still a hero. On duty or off, we have these brave men and women to thank for their timely and knowledgeable action.

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