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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Watch: Good Samaritans Pull Elderly Couple from Wreck as Flames Consume Vehicle

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Ken and Joan Williamson of Phoenix were enjoying their Labor Day weekend by traveling to San Diego — a vacation that could have been their last.

At around 4:30 p.m. on Monday, they were allegedly hit from behind while driving on I-8, and their Toyota caught on fire.

As the car was consumed by the blaze with the elderly Williamsons still inside, a total of five good Samaritans stopped to help.

Jeff Lucas, Harry Hemphill, Andre Leggett, Scott Andre and a man identified only as Barry — all from the East County Transitional Living Center — quickly approached the burning vehicle.

Though they’d been on the opposite side of the freeway, they pulled over and ran across lanes of oncoming traffic to help the trapped couple. Marie Macrorie caught the heart-stopping rescue on camera.

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“Ran over there,” Hemphill said, according to WDJB-TV. “A couple of guys grabbed the wife, and the other two grabbed the husband, who was driving.”

“It happened so fast, you know,” Lucas said. “We just reacted immediately.”

“Even we didn’t even realize there was somebody in the passenger seat. That’s how much smoke was in the car.”



“We just saw this guy, and he’s stuck in his seat belt,” Leggett added, “so we kind of snatched open the door and unbuckled the seat belt, and my buddy, Barry, snatched him out of the car.”

If these brave men hadn’t acted immediately, the couple likely would have perished. Joan came away with minor injuries, though Barry and Ken suffered burns. The three are recovering in the hospital.

Mark and Steve Williamson are eternally grateful to the heroes who rescued their parents that afternoon.

“Everyone that saw that video knows that if those people did not pull them out, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now, so I can’t thank them enough,” Mark said.

“Our dad had some burns to his left side,” Steve added. “My mom got out with just abrasions.”

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While the good Samaritans are being recognized for their selfless actions, one took the opportunity to give credit to God, and another thanked the ECTLC for changing lives and hearts.

“I’m glad they’re OK,” Andre said. “Yeah, I’m glad God took care of them, you know, and hopefully they’ll be OK.”

“There was a time when, like so many, I would have — we would have kept driving,” Hemphill admitted. “But because of programs like ECTLC, we’re — I’m changing, and in that change, now we’re able to not just be selfish individuals but look out for others.”

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