St. George man rescues driver from burning car

May 31, 2018, 5:02 PM | Updated: 9:09 pm

GEORGE, Utah – What would have otherwise been a routine drive to work, his graveyard shift at the local Walmart, quickly changed for Jacob Hughes Sunday night, when he noticed something unusual.

Police say Jacob Hughes likely saved a man’s life Sunday, May 27, 2018

“I happened to look across the street to see a car that was kind of black and smoky in the inside, and I saw little orange flickers of light,” Hughes recalled.

Without hesitation, Hughes says he went across the street to where the car was parked outside a Wyndham hotel to investigate further.

“Through the crack in the window, I could see that there was a man inside the car,” Hughes said. “His lap was on fire, as well as the fire was starting to go up the steering wheel of the car.”

Hughes realized he needed to get the man out quickly.

“I tried getting his attention,” Hughes explained. “(Tried) banging on the window. Tried opening both of the doors, and of course both of them were locked.”

Cellphone video shows how flames engulfed a car, shortly after Jacob Hughes pulled the driver out Sunday. Provided by St. George News.

As Hughes persisted, the man started to wake up.

“He was able to barely move his hand over and roll the window down for me,” Hughes said.

Hughes says by then the fire had reached the front seat belt clip. He happened to have a box cutter handy that he uses at work and managed to cut the man free and pull him out. But as more oxygen entered the car with the door now open, the flames grew.

“I was able to pull him out and drag him about four to five feet away,” Hughes said. “I put the fire out that was kind of on his chest with my hands. I couldn’t get the fire out with my hands on the lap itself, so I got my jacket and just beat it out with that.”

Shortly after, Hughes says a woman pulled over and offered to help. He asked her to call 911, realizing that he hadn’t had a moment to do that himself.

The fire victim was later transported by helicopter to a Las Vegas area hospital. St. George Police are still looking into the cause of the fire. Ofc. Lona Trombley says Hughes’ intervention made a big difference.

“If he hadn’t pulled him out, he could have potentially died or burned more severely,” Trombley said.

It’s a situation Hughes says he never imagined himself in.

“It was something that I didn’t feel I was quite capable of doing,” he said.

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St. George man rescues driver from burning car