WINNIPEG, Man. — After witnessing a fiery collision near Hwy. 59 and the North Perimeter Hwy. on Monday, a heroic Manitoba truck driver came to the rescue of one young woman engulfed in flames, and another screaming inside a burning van, according to a recent story published by the Winnipeg Free Press.
Raymond Nolette, a driver for Steinbach-based Dawson Road Transfer, was going east on the North Perimeter Hwy. when he witnessed the accident. Police say five people were sent to hospital after a collision between a gray Chevrolet van and a white Mazda hatchback, which occurred just before 10 a.m., and snarled traffic just south of the spot where the Perimeter crosses above Hwy. 59 at an overpass.
Nolette said after the van burst into flames, two young women climbed out of the passenger side, followed by a third. But instead of running to safety, the third woman fell into a fire burning near the van, from what Nolette thought was spilled gas. He immediately ran to the woman, whipped off his jacket and wrapped it around her, beating the flames away, he said.
“Finally I got the fire out, and I turn around and I see there’s another girl standing in the van, just screaming because of the fire,” he told the Free Press.
Nolette said he coaxed the woman to jump from the van, after which the group of women began to cry and hug. Stunned by the event, Nolette said he suddenly realized his rig was blocking traffic and went to move it, driving away before police arrived.
“I was just so much in shock. I just left,” he said, adding he reported the incident to his company.
Nolette said he only saw four women in the van, but the East St. Paul Fire Department reported that five people were taken from the van to the nearest hospital. The driver of the Mazda, its lone occupant, was treated at the scene.
His company thinks he’s a hero, but Nolette insists otherwise: “I just did what comes naturally,” he said. The driver, who has adult children, is relieved the situation wasn’t any worse. “This was horrible, and I was sure glad they were alright,” he said.
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