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NJ Man Thankful For ‘Second Chance In Life’ After Fiery Turnpike Crash

Police: Greg Nelson's Car Burst Into Flames After Intoxicated Suspect Hit It
Greg Nelson speaks to CBS 2 after his vehicle was struck by another car near Exit 9 of the New Jersey Turnpike on Wednesday night. (credit: CBS 2)

Greg Nelson speaks to CBS 2 after his vehicle was struck by another car near Exit 9 of the New Jersey Turnpike on Wednesday night. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey man said he owes his life to a stranger after a good Samaritan pulled him from a burning car.

Police said the car burst into flames on the New Jersey Turnpike after being smashed into by a drunk driver.

Greg Nelson was recovering at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital on Thursday following the horrific accident the night before.

“I want to thank God. It’s a second chance in life,” Nelson told CBS 2′s Christine Sloan from his bedside. “I was sitting on the side of the road, next thing I know, I was being pulled out of a burning vehicle.”

With burns on his hand, shins and a neck, plus an arm injury, it is a miracle the 29-year-old was able to talk from his hospital bed, but he insisted on telling his story.

It was just before 8 p.m. on Wednesday, when Nelson, a semi-pro football player on a Plainfield team, found himself stranded on the Turnpike near Exit 9.

His car was on the side of the road and that is when police said 22-year-old Tynell Crudup, who police said was intoxicated, crashed into him.

Both cars burst into flames. Nelson said several good Samaritans rescued him and his cousin from the burning car.

“I don’t even know them [I want to] just thank them and thank God he was there,” Nelson said.

Police identified one of the good Samaritans as Fidel Ortiz, Jr., of California.

“His cousin wasn’t worried about himself. Greg kept saying ‘Get my cousin out of the car, get my cousin out of the car,’” Nelson’s cousin, Lynn Williams, said.

Before crashing into Nelson, police said Crudup was involved in at least three hit-and-runs. Crudup was charged with driving while under the influence and Nelson had a message for him.

“You not only put yourself in danger, but you put other people in danger. Like I said, had it not been for the guy who pulled me out and my cousin, I wouldn’t be here,” Nelson said.

Nelson said he is on painkillers and was not sure when he would be released from the hospital. The driver who crashed into him was also rushed to the hospital in serious condition.

State Police said in addition to the charges he faces, Crudup also has several outstanding warrants.

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