NORTH STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — A Rhode Island man is in critical condition after the heavy duty wrecker he was driving crashed off I-95 and caught fire. The accident happened in North Stonington on Friday morning.
The driver, 52-year-old John Martins, was taken to Rhode Island Hospital via Lifestar. Seven Good Samaritans are credited with saving him.
The heavy duty wrecker was driving northbound when it blew a tire, hit a guardrail, traveled down an embankment and then crashed into a tree. It then caught fire. Craig Johnson of New London was heading to work when he saw the smoke. He thought it was a brushfire at first. He then heard Martins screaming.
“It was a very quick decision. Do I want to go into that?” said Johnson. “Then I don’t know, I didn’t even think about it. I just went down there.”
Most of the clothes Martins was wearing were burned off. Though Johnson has a medical background, he’s not used to dealing with situations like this one. He was concerned Martins could have a spinal injury, but he needed to get him out of the wrecker.
“I was very afraid and I said I’m not going to think about that,” he said. “We just have to move this man. The fire is coming.”
Johnson and three others dragged Martins up the embankment and cared for him until emergency responders arrived. The flames burned some of the hair off Johnson’s arm and singed the hair on the back of his head. Fortunately, his skin was not burned. He says he’s just grateful that Martins is alive.
People across the country have been reaching out to Johnson, grateful for everything he did to save Martins.
“The support from my friends, from the community, from the tow truck community for their brother has been amazing,” said Johnson.
Johnson says he really didn’t think about it, he just reacted. He’s just glad he was able to help someone when it mattered the most.
“I hope somebody would do that for me or my family,” said Johnson. “We’re people. We’ve got to help each other.”
Anybody who saw that accident is asked to call State Police Troop E in Montville.