Deputy, firefighter make amazing rescue

Published: August 8, 2007 | 6596th good news item since 2003

A Charlotte County man was badly burned but is still alive thanks to an amazing rescue by a Charlotte County Deputy and a fire chief who risked their own lives to save the life of a driver inside a burning van.

Detective Robert Conant was heading to work Monday morning when something on the radio caught his attention.

“A deputy just called it in on the radio an accident at the intersection I was approaching,” said Conant. “Honestly, it was just being in the right place at the right time.”

When he pulled up to the intersection of SR776 and Oriole Boulevard, he saw a van lying on its side.

“Passenger side up, driver side down and I could see dark black smoke pouring out the top,” said Conant.

Without thinking twice about his own safety, Conant headed straight for the burning van.

“When I found out there was somebody in it, it was just time to get him out,” said Conant.

The detective worked along with a fire chief who was already on the scene to rescue 81-year-old Hubert Wills. But saving him wasn’t easy

“A passerby gave us a lug wrench from her car and the chief took that and we were able to get the windshield finally broken out and pulled away. All the smoke came out so it was so thick I couldn’t see the guy. So I was yelling, ‘Give me your hands!'” said Conant.

But his hands were too badly burned to touch.

“I grabbed his suspenders and started pulling him out. Then the suspenders pulled off,” said Conant.

Conant and the chief managed to pull Wills out by his pants just in time.

“When I looked back at the vehicle, then you could see flames,” said Conant.

Conant said it was only then that he realized how dangerous the situation was.

“When we were trying to get him out, that’s the only thing you think of – just trying to get the person out alive,” said Conant.

While he’s never had to make a rescue like that before, Conant says it’s just part of the job.

“You just try to help people out when they need it and that man needed it. He needed it badly and luckily we were able to help him,” said Conant..

Published in Rescues
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