BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) — A van with an elderly couple inside crashed into a cement dividing wall on Interstate 65 in Tennessee on Thursday.
The incident happened around noon when the van hit the wall at highway speed.
Even though the van’s front end was wedged into the cement wall, the back tires were rapidly spinning and churning up shredded rubber. This created massive heat which eventually caused the van to catch fire.
With white smoke rapidly filling the highway, multiple motorists who witnessed the crash pulled over and risked their own safety, rushing across four lanes of traffic to get to the injured driver and his female passenger.
Amani Kelly was one of the first on the scene.
“Then I saw this vehicle on fire, around the tire area. A few men ran over and got the woman out of the vehicle. Then, we realized there was a man in the van as well,” said Kelly.
Kyle Tortorelli dashed across the interstate, holding up his hands and stopping traffic as he approached the smoldering van with the two senior citizens.
“It was scary. I was hoping traffic would stop. I saw wheels spinning. I ran across four lanes of traffic to turn the engine off. I got to the keys. It was blowing smoke,” said Tortorelli. “He was passed out cold inside,” Tortorelli added of the male passenger.
After about two minutes, some motorists had suppressed the fire with extinguishers. while others worked to carry the driver from the smoldering van with the Ohio plates.
Kelly says he was proud of his fellow motorists for rushing to the seniors’ aid.
“Yes, absolutely. It was not a second-guess on my part, or anyone else’s part. It was good to see everyone come together”
Dr. Chris Andershock is an emergency room physician who also came upon the crash moments after it happened. He assisted the unconscious driver in the van and then helped carry him across the interstate to the side of the road where there was more room to put him down and assess his situation.
“Single car accidents are usually medical issues. He passed out. He has no recollection of the event,” said Dr. Andershock.
By the time ambulances and fire crews arrived on scene, the two victims were seated on the back of a pickup truck tailgate and talking to their rescuers.
“It touched my heart. The same thing happened to my grandparents years ago. So it really did touch my heart,” said Kelly.
“I’m glad everyone did stop so we could assist them and get them the care they need,” said Tortorelli.