Passersby pull driver from burning SUV on I-65 North

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A driver was pulled from his burning vehicle after a crash Sunday morning by a group of heroes who just happened to be driving by.

The crash happened on Interstate 65 North near the Harding Place exit around 8:30 a.m.

The male victim, who was reportedly not wearing his seat belt, was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with critical injuries.

“It happened very fast. I saw this black SUV dart from the right, nail the side railing, and then it ended up darting to the left,” Jordy Wetzel told News 2.

Police say the driver lost control for an unknown reason, hit the guardrail on the right side of the roadway, crossed back over and struck the median before flipping and landing right-side up.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

Wetzel, who served in the army, didn’t think twice about stopping to help. He ran over to the smoking car to discover the driver upside down, unresponsive and trapped in the SUV.

“He ended up in the passenger side, so his head was face down into the wheel well of the car. The door was so smashed in, it was basically prying it open and that’s when we saw he was up against the door upside down,” Wetzel explained.

He says several off duty Franklin firefighters and a park ranger also came to the driver’s rescue, pulling him from the burning car with only seconds to spare before the SUV went up in flames.

“There was probably about like six of us pulling him out, basically sped up a lot to grab that door, jar it open, drag him by any body part that you could, drug him about 50 feet away and basically that’s when that smoke started billowing up and the whole thing went up in flames.”

Metro police said two cars of firefighters with the Franklin Fire Department happened to pass by shortly after the crash and stopped to help. They were headed to watch the Titans game at Nissan Stadium.

One firefighter helped pull the driver from his burning SUV and rendered first aid until paramedic crews arrived.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, but Metro police told News 2 a white powder was found in the driver’s wallet and they are working to determine if drugs were a factor in the crash.