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Bystanders pull motorist from burning vehicle


A grisly car crash was prevented from growing worse Wednesday through the quick thinking of three motorists.

Mike Lovejoy of Newburg said he was traveling south at the intersection of U.S. 301 and Sadie Lane in Bel Alton around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when he saw a vehicle on the northbound side that had veered off the road and into a tree.

Cpl. Mike Cox of the Maryland State Police’s La Plata barrack confirmed Lovejoy’s account of the crash, saying the car was a 1996 Infiniti.

Smoke was coming from the vehicle. Lovejoy said that was when he and another southbound traveler made a U-turn to assist the crash victim.

“It was pretty much immediate,” Lovejoy said. “I think he and I both noticed the smoke, and that no one else was around, so we stopped to help.”

By the time he and the other motorist reached the site, a third who had been traveling north stopped to help. One man noticed the engine of the vehicle was still running, and was able to turn it off.

By that point, Lovejoy said a fire was burning underneath the car, and one of the assisting motorists checked for a fire extinguisher. Fearing that the fire would trigger an explosion, Lovejoy and the other two moved the driver of the wrecked car to a distance safely away from the truck.

Police were not yet on the scene when the two moved the victim from danger.

Cox said officers from the MSP barrack were unaware the rescue had even taken place.

When asked if this were the proper course of action for Lovejoy and the others to take in such an event, he responded, “Yes, if they thought the fire was a threat, that was the proper thing to do. I think they acted in good faith.”

Lovejoy said he and the other two waited with the man, who was drifting in and out of consciousness, for incident response to arrive.

The victim was airlifted with injuries that were not life-threatening to the University of Maryland’s R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, police said.

Cox said Thursday afternoon that MSP did not have information on the victim’s condition.

“We didn’t want to move him because we didn’t know what state he was in, but the fire left us no other choice,” Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy does not consider his actions to be especially heroic, but rather born out of necessity.

“I’m no hero at all,” Lovejoy said. “I don’t think any of us thought twice at all ... I think we were all just hoping for his safety.”

From all of this, Lovejoy said he learned one valuable lesson.

“Keep a fire extinguisher in your car,” Lovejoy said. “None of us had one at the time, and God forbid there had been an explosion. I’m going to start keeping one with me.”