COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Columbia nurse is being called a hero after he and another man jumped into action in the midst of the I-26 fiery crash on Wednesday morning.
Kelly Winters is a nurse at Providence Hospital. He said his day started off normally.
"I usually wake up go downstairs let the dog out, the coffee maker goes off so I get to deliver coffee to my wife when she gets up," Winters said. "So that's usually when I leave, I bring her coffee, give her a hug and then I head to work."
But that changed in an instant that day during his morning commute on I-26. Winters was one of the ten vehicles involved in a multi-vehicle crash with a tanker truck carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel. He said the noise was unbearable.
"Screeching metal on concrete and the flames coming from the tanker truck headed straight toward us," he said.
Fortunately, Winters was able to escape his vehicle. He says it was then that he, along with another driver, heard a cry for help.
"We got about two to three hundred feet away when it struck our cars and that's when we heard someone yelling, 'Help me! Help me! Help me!'" he said.
Winters said he and the other driver immediately ran to help.
"Started kicking off the windshield about two or three times, I was able to dislodge it enough where I was able to reach in with my hands and just pull the windshield up. It was so hot our clothes were smoking and we started yelling at her to crawl through the window and thank God she did," he said.
Winters said the driver escaped just in time.
"As we were going away we heard explosions going off. I don't know if they were tires or gasoline tank. We didn't spend anytime turning around to look," he said.
Four people were injured in the crash, but Kelly, the other rescuer and the tractor trailer driver are all okay.
Kelly did lose his car, electronics and the re-engagement ring he bought for his wife.
"It's okay because I'm still alive," Winters said with a smile.