EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A pair of Australians visiting New Jersey this week raced to the rescue of a truck driver who was on fire.
As CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, two semi-trailer trucks crashed on the New Jersey Turnpike in East Brunswick on Wednesday night. One of them exploded, in a spectacular fire that engulfed the runway.
But that did not stop the Wilsons from shouting and running to truck driver Dale Miller, running across the Turnpike with his pants literally on fire.
“I was saying get his pants down, which has caused a big stir back home, because they’re all saying: ‘Here’s an Aussie running down the New Jersey Turnpike yelling at a trucker to get his pants down,’” said Jacqui Wilson.
But the situation was no laughing matter.
Wilson and her husband were visiting her brother, and were on their way back from a trip to Washington, D.C., when they witnessed the trucks collide just before 8 p.m. Wednesday near Interchange 9 in East Brunswick.
Many panicked and kept driving.
But Wilson and her husband and brother stopped – capturing their own efforts on video.
“It’s right in front of you. You’re 20 feet from it — what do you do?” said Wilson’s brother, Simon Byrne of Maplewood, New Jersey. “It’s not like, you can’t just sit there.”
Wilson and her brother ran to the truck driver, pulled off his pants, and put the fire out.
The driver appears dazed afterward as he walks toward them with his belt in his hand.
“The truck driver was just holding my hands and he was just saying: ‘I have nowhere to go, I have nowhere to go,’” Wilson said. “So he was obviously in shock.”
As soon as paramedics arrived, they took off – anxious to get away the explosions and in disbelief about what had just happened.
“How he got out of the cabin not completely on fire is a miracle itself, because there was nothing left of that truck within seconds,” Wilson said.
Driver Miller, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey in serious condition late Thursday night.
The Wilsons hoped he would make a full recovery, and refused acknowledge that they did anything heroic.
“I would just like to think that if it was someone that I knew, that somebody would get out and help them and pay it forward,” Wilson said.
The rescue has already won the Good Samaritans recognition back in Australia.