06/08/11 — Teens save driver

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Teens save driver

By Gary Popp
Published in News on June 8, 2011 1:46 PM

A single-car accident near the Wayne-Johnston county line Tuesday afternoon sent four people to the hospital.

But emergency officials said the result could have been much worse if it had not been for the quick actions of six teenagers who came rushing to the scene.

The youths were swimming nearby when they heard the crash and ran to the scene, where they helped the victims escape the car before it became engulfed in flames.

The accident happened about 4 p.m. on Mill Creek Road, when the car driven by Matthew Williams, 24, of Stevens Mill Road, ran off the road. Williams was taken to Pitt Memorial Hospital for his injuries. Hospital officials refused to comment on his condition. The three passengers were treated and released at Wayne Memorial Hospital.

A group of students from Southern Wayne High and an eighth-grader from Grantham School were swimming in a nearby creek when the car crashed.

Tyler Jones, 18, is a new member of the Smith Chapel Volunteer Fire Department. He was one of the teenagers enjoying the first day of summer vacation when he heard the screeching tires.

The teens reached the vehicle and found it already on fire. Jones said three of the four people inside were getting out on their own when the group reached the scene. One of the women pleaded for the teens to help get her boyfriend, Williams, out from beneath the car.

In attempting to reach him, the teens broke the rear window of the vehicle.

"As soon as we break it, we still can't get to him," Jones said. "So, all of us get beside the car and start pushing it, and we finally push it over and get it off of him."

Jones said one of the teens raised a log that was on top of Williams, and was able to pull Williams away from the burning car.

Williams was mostly unresponsive. The boys pulled him away from the flames and waited for an ambulance.

Richard Proctor, a teacher at Southern Wayne and chief of the Grantham Volunteer Fire Department, said the boys' quick reaction likely saved Williams' life.

"From the fire chief side and the school teacher side, I am very proud of these boys because it is obvious they truly made a difference today between life and death," Proctor said. "It is always good to see young people, or anybody, to step up and help out somebody that they do not know, so that is very rewarding for me personally."

The other teens involved in the rescue were Will Bunch, Jeremy Jones, Taylor Gainey, Scott Westbrook and Andy Westbrook.

State Highway Patrol Trooper J.M. Dorsey said alcohol and speed were factors in the accident.

Williams was charged with driving while impaired and careless and reckless driving.

He was not wearing a seat belt, Dorsey said.

Members of both the Grantham and Bentonville fire department assisted at the scene, along with the Indian Springs Volunteer Fire Department, Grantham Volunteer Rescue Squad and emergency medical services units from both Wayne and Johnston.

The passengers in the car were George Madry, 24, of Stevens Mill Road, Heather Little, 20, of Mary Wood Drive, and Heather Eason, 18, of Race Track Road in LaGrange.