Two Hulbert High School seniors were at the right place at the right time last Saturday night.
Chris Vance and Craig Potts were with friends at the Honor Heights Park Christmas Garden of Lights tour in Muskogee Dec. 1 when they became a part of rescue that would save two senior citizens from a burning car.
Vance and Potts were in the parking lot near the gift shop and reflecting pond, waiting for friends, when they noticed a vehicle sparks and flames shooting off of a vehicle coming down a nearby hill.
“We were just sitting there, waiting on friends to get back from the restroom, and then we looked up and saw this car coming down the hill and reacted as fast as we could,” said Potts. “I don’t think they knew the car was on fire. Someone was trying to tell them to stop, and finally they did.”
As the two Hulbert student-athletes ran toward the burning the vehicle, a relative of the car’s occupants appeared nearby and shouted, “My grandma’s in there!” as Potts and Vance arrived to help.
A male driver of another car that was in line for the tour had also noticed the flames and was at the vehicle’s side to help get everyone to safety.
“Craig ran to one side and I ran to the other. He got out this 93-year-old woman, and I helped pull out the crippled woman in the back seat. I helped some man pull her out,” Vance said. “She was just sitting there.”
The hair of the woman Potts helped out of the vehicle caught fire when flames began to fill the vehicle as she tried to escape it.
“The fire just shot up and hit her in the face when she opened the door. I helped her put it out with my forearm,” said Potts. “They were heading toward the exit and were almost at the very end [of the tour]. It was like in front of the parking lot near the duck pond. After we got them out. I sat her down, and I checked her out. We took them to the parking lot. Their family was on the other side of the pond where we were sitting.”
According to published reports, the man Vance helped pulled the older woman out of the car has been identified as Darren Thomas. Two children were also reported to have been riding in the burning car. The children and the car’s driver were said to have jumped out of the vehicle after realizing it was on fire.
The car’s occupants were reportedly visiting Muskogee from Henryetta.
Vance said his and Potts’ rescue effort was “the right thing to do.”
“We sat with them until the police and an ambulance got there,” he said. “If it was my grandma in there, I would want someone to help her.”
Vance was the quarterback for the HHS Rider football team this season. Potts also plays football, and both play basketball and run track.
Rob Anderson writes for the Tahlequah Daily Press.