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Hellgate high school teen saves man from burning vehicle

missoula teen rescue.JPG
Posted at 7:43 AM, Dec 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-18 20:06:28-05

BONNER — A man trapped in his burning vehicle after a Friday evening roll-over accident was saved by a Missoula high school teen.

Missoula Rural Fire District Battalion Chief Michael Bowman said in a news release that MRFD was dispatched at 9:41 PM Friday to a possible vehicle accident with unknown injuries in the vicinity of Cambridge Road and Highway 200 East in Bonner.

Bowman said due to limited cell service in the area, it made it difficult for 911 to get information. A Missoula County Sheriff county deputy arrived on the scene first and determined that there was a vehicle fully involved in fire with a single patient out of the vehicle needing medical attention.

First arriving MRFD unit from Bonner reported a well-involved passenger vehicle on fire with one patient being tended to by law enforcement on scene. MRFD unit extinguished the fire while mutual aid engine from East Missoula Fire provided emergency medical treatment to the patient with Paramedics from Missoula Emergency Services.

Highway 200 was shut down in both directions temporarily by the Montana Highway Patrol while emergency crews were working on the scene. There were no other injuries reported.

Bowman said later into the incident, MRFD personnel learned that the patient involved in the rollover was trapped in his vehicle as it was on fire. A 16-year-old Hellgate High School student and his mother were in their residence adjacent to the crash when they heard the commotion.

The 16-year-old went out to investigate the commotion and saw a vehicle off the road on fire. He ran to the vehicle and observed the man trapped in the driver’s seat. The man was unable to free himself and had an altered level of consciousness.

While the car was burning, the boy pulled the man out of the driver’s window and dragged him to safety as far as he could, and remained with the man until emergency responders arrived.

Bowman said it was the teen's 16th birthday and because of his quick thinking and actions, he saved the man's life.

Bowman credits East Missoula Fire, Missoula County Sheriff's Office, Missoula Emergency Services and Montana Highway Patrol for assistance with this incident.