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Posted on Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

Passers-by pull man from burning vehicle on I-94 near Chelsea

By Kyle Feldscher


One man was injured after his van caught fire on I-94 between Dancer and Steinbach Roads Tuesday. He was pulled out of the vehicle by two men who pulled over to the side of the road after watching the crash.

Melanie Maxwell |

Updated story: Paraplegic Ann Arbor man rescued from burning vehicle on I-94 in critical condition

A man was pulled from his burning vehicle by two strangers after a crash on Interstate 94 near Chelsea Tuesday and transported to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Carlos Quintanilla of Flint said he and another man pulled the victim out of the burning car. The two used their coats to smother flames engulfing the man.

“The gentleman in the vehicle was completely engulfed in flames,” Quintanilla said. “I mean, completely engulfed in flames. (The other man) and I did the best we could to pull him out before he was burned any more, but there was not too much we could do at that point.”


A van burns just off of I-94 between Dancer and Steinbach roads just after noon on Tuesday. Reports indicated the fire sent a man to the hospital.

Photo courtesy of Lucas Kizer

Quintanilla, who was traveling back to Flint after a job interview, said he watched the eastbound vehicle cross into the center median, cross back into the eastbound lanes and crash into an open field. Quintanilla said the vehicle was already smoking when it originally went into the center median. When he and the other man approached the van, flames were shooting outside of the windows, he said.

Quintanilla said he and the other man — who left the area without being identified — pulled the man out of the van by his arms. They moved him away from the vehicle in case the van exploded, he said.

Dispatchers could confirm there was a fire on the freeway shortly after noon but no other details on how the fire began.

Quintanilla, a former Marine, was on the phone with his girlfriend when he saw the man drive off the road. He said he told her he had to go help out and would call her back.

“I knew I had to help out. I saw another car pull over and the other gentleman get out, so I got out as fast as I could,” he said. “Once I seen the flames, I knew the guy was in trouble. It was nothing I thought about, it was just, ‘I need to help this guy.’”

Quintanilla, who was interviewing at Elm’s Plating Co. in Jackson, said the man was talking to state troopers before being transported by ambulance to the hospital. He said the man told state troopers to call his wife and gave them her phone number before he was transported to the hospital.

Other motorists who were driving by also stopped to try to help.

Several people brought fire extinguishers to the scene, and a woman ran from bystander to bystander collecting bottles of water that people dumped on the man to cool him. A woman who said she was a nurse from the University of Michigan and used to work in the burn unit was giving instructions and gave a state police officer a breathing apparatus to help the victim.

The man’s clothes had been mostly burned off, aside from his belt, according to witnesses.

A Survival Flight helicopter was called off and the man was transported by ambulance to the hospital, according to reports.

The car fire occurred on I-94 between Dancer Road and Steinbach Road, according to Lucas Kizer, a witness who drove by just after noon on Tuesday. Kizer said the van was off I-94 in a nearby field and fire crews were just arriving at the scene at that time.

He said there were a number of people standing around the blaze who appeared to be uninjured. Only one vehicle involved in the accident, Kizer said.

Come back to for more details on this story as they become available.

Sports producer Rich Rezler was on scene and contributed to this story.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 5:20 p.m.

The injured man was my neighbor and good friend. He died this morning from his severe burns despite the best efforts of the good samaritins who came to his aid.

Tony Dearing

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

Here is an update published this morning: <a href=""></a>

Cendra Lynn

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 5:05 a.m.

Thank you, Carlos. People like you are what keeps the human spirit alive.


Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

This is a great and sad story at the same time. I hope that God is with the victim. In no way would I ever demean the rescue spirit which, apparently, is in many if not all people. I was once (back in the Sixties) involved in a similar incident. Looking back, I remember that &quot;something&quot; quelled my fear as I and others ran toward a car which sat in a pool of burning gasoline with flames (no exaggeration) 20 feet high. Many times we see this same scenario in news reports. Taken together, they are a magnificent tribute to our concern for those in trouble.


Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

That xmas song, a soldiers xmas comes to mind. They are always on duty. R AH!


Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 4:19 a.m.

God and the marine were there


Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 2:32 a.m.

The marine was there, not God.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 9:28 p.m.

Does anyone know what happened to shut Washtenaw at 23 down this morning? I heard but don't see anything here. Glad that person is ok. Sounds like that stretch of 94 is on ancient burial ground.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

jns131 - Here's a link to our story that we had earlier today. It's gotten pushed off the home page just because it was early on in the day. <a href=""></a>

Steve Graves

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 9:09 p.m.

If you are familiar with how the USMC recruits and trains their personnel, I am not at all surprised by what Carlos did. I too hope that he gets that job. Semper fi, Carlos


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

The victim in the accident is my uncle. I would like to say a million thank you's to Carlos, and the other man, who helped get my uncle out of the vehicle. There truly are amazing people in this world, and my family and I cannot thank you enough for what you did.

Dog Guy

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

Quintanilla is proof that there are no &quot;former&quot; marines.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 8 p.m.

Thank you to the courageous good Samaritan. I hope the injured gentleman heals quickly.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 7:25 p.m.

Very brave &amp; helpful! Good to know there's people like this in our world. My thoughts go out to the injured man and his family. I hope he makes a full recovery.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 6:27 p.m.

Happy we live in a country where people do things like this. That video out of China with the 2 year old makes me sick.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 9:29 p.m.

Its the lack of people who should have helped but did nothing. smokblwr? What awuc said has nothing to do with your comment. I am still trying to find out if that child in China is ok or not.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.

Lots of things out of China will make you sick. Lead paint. Poison baby formula. Pollution. Germ warfare....


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

Wow. I hope Carlos gets that job.