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Beltway travelers rescue woman from burning Jeep

Matt Zapotosky

Several people the Prince George's County Fire Department is calling "Good Samaritans" pulled a 27-year-old woman from her burning Jeep Wrangler Wednesday morning after the vehicle was rear ended by a tractor-trailer on the Capital Beltway, authorities said.

Jeep Wrangler after the crash. (Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department)

The crash occurred just before 9 a.m. between Baltimore Avenue and Interstate 95 on the outer loop of the Beltway in College Park, authorities said. According to witnesses and a fire department spokesman, the tractor-trailer ran into the back of the Jeep, sending it across several lanes of traffic and sparking a few other collisions.

By the time the Jeep came to rest, authorities said, it was on fire, its fuel tank apparently ruptured in the crash. Several other travelers stopped to help.

John Brown Jr., 30, a foreman with the Upper Marlboro construction company Tessa Structural, was on his way to a job in Taneytown when he saw the fiery Jeep come barreling across the Beltway. He said he slammed on his brakes and swerved, clipping another car, and then grabbed the fire extinguisher from his truck and ran with others to aid the Jeep’s driver.

While Brown tried unsuccessfully to douse the flames, his passenger, 20-year-old Evan Werner, tried to pry the 27-year-old woman from the vehicle. The door would not open and the woman’s legs were trapped underneath the dashboard, Werner said, so he and Brown had to rip the Jeep's canvas top off and wiggle the woman out of the wreckage.

“Of course, I was yelling ‘We got to get her out,’ because we didn’t want the gas tank to blow up,” Brown said. “After we thought about it, you could call it kind of dumb, but we saved a woman’s life.”

Within 30 seconds, Werner said, the Jeep was totally engulfed in flames. Fire department officials said she sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries. They credited Werner, Brown and others with saving her life.

A second woman in another car was also injured in the crash, authorities said. She was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries.

-- Matt Zapotosky

By Matt Zapotosky  |  December 16, 2009; 3:23 PM ET
Categories:  Heroes , Matt Zapotosky , Pr. George's  | Tags: Capital Beltway, Good Samaritans, Jeep Wrangler  
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