Gulf War vet saves woman in accident

Posted: 03/15/13 at 5:25 am EDT      Last Updated: 03/16/13 at 4:59 pm EDT

WESTMINSTER, Mass. (WHDH) -- A driver was trapped inside a burning car after an accident in Westminster and a good Samaritan put his own life and danger, using his military skills to help save her.

A Gulf War vet who has training in crash rescue and fire suppression saw the driver in need and used his military skills to save her.

It was a head-on crash at about 9 p.m. Thursday night. A woman became trapped in her car and Christopher Brown went through the sunroof and was helping to try to get the woman out when the car burst into flames. He stayed in the car with the woman even after fire trucks arrived on scene.

“It looked really bad. It was one of those situations where I think it was all in the back of our minds, are we going to watch this woman die in front of us?” said Brown.

Fire Chief Brenton Macaloney said he and his men emptied nine fire extinguishers as they waited anxiously for a fire truck. Brown refused to give up.

“He put himself at a great deal of risk. He was in the car breathing all the fumes, all the smoke. We couldn’t see him. We couldn’t see his body, his face. My firefighters were yelling to him and they couldn’t- didn’t know exactly where he physically was, but they told him to get out,” said Macaloney.

“It’s an old military mindset. No one in the military- everybody hears it. You leave no one behind and there was never a thought process…no one was going to leave her in the car. Dying in front of us was just not an option,” said Christopher Brown, who rescued the woman.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames and rescue the woman. A family friend who visited the woman in the hospital said the victim’s mother is calling Brown a lifesaver.

“He actually laid his body on top of her to protect her. I tell you right now it brings a tear to my eye to see that people would actually risk their own life to save someone else and they don’t even know who they are,’ said Robert Wirtanen, crash victim’s family friend.

But Brown says don’t thank him, thank the state veteran programs that once helped him when he was down on his luck.

“And they literally took a man that literally lived in a sleeping bag in the street, got him college educated, got him a job, you know, I own a house. I think if you really had to thank anyone, it’s every citizen in the commonwealth who pays taxes, literally, this is what your investment paid for,” said Brown.

The woman was taken to Worcester Medical Center where she has life-threatening injuries, but thanks to her swift and brave rescuers, she has a shot at recovery.

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