Heroic effort saves woman from burning car

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PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. -- A current and former Prince George’s County Firefighter and a good Samaritan teamed up to rescue a woman from a car that was eventually engulfed in flames.

"The fire got to a point where she would have been in peril if it had been a few more moments of her remaining in the vehicle,” said former Prince George’s County Deputy Fire Chief Tyrone Wells, one of the rescuers.

It began Wednesday evening when Prince George’s County Assistant Fire Chief Darren Ware was heading home after coordinating the mutual aid coverage for the county as many fire/EMS were attending firefighter John “Skillet” Ulmschneider’s funeral.

Ware was traveling northbound along Crain Highway near Brandywine Road, he saw a car in a ditch on the side of the road. A woman was still in the driver’s seat.

Shortly after Ware pulled over to help, Wells, a 28-year-veteran who retired in 2010, pulled over as well.

"It was like, I guess people talk about, riding a bike. You just drop right back into it,” said Wells, as he and Ware worked to get the woman out of the car in time.

“There was a small fire near the car. Which it had appeared the undercarriage of the car had started a brush fire and within a few moments the car was on fire."

Wells said the car doors were locked and woman in the driver’s seat was not responsive to orders to unlock the door.

“It appeared to be that she was having a medical crisis and was not able to comprehend what we were asking her to do."

At times, the woman would hit the gas and send the car lurching forward.

"We kind of scrambled out of the way, not sure what would happen. And then we went back to it."

Wells says a good Samaritan (who hasn’t been identified) pulled over to help and had power tools with him.

They used these to open the rear driver’s side door, but were unable to get to the driver because of the angle the car was laying in the ditch.

"So we went around to the other side, down this small hill here, and was able to pull her out."

The trio then took her to the other side of the road to aware the arrival of firefighters and paramedics.

A Prince George’s County Fire Department spokesperson says the woman did not suffer an injury during this ordeal, but was taken to an area hospital with a non-life threatening illness.