Good Samaritan, firefighter rescue driver from burning car in North Haven

(WTNH/ Report It)
(WTNH/ Report It)

NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– A Good Samaritan and a volunteer firefighter rescued a driver from a burning car on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in North Haven Sunday morning.

Police say two men were traveling on Route 15 northbound around 6:30 a.m. when their car crashed into a tree and caught fire by exit 63. The driver was trapped inside the burning vehicle.

News 8 spoke exclusively with Caleb Rhodes, the Good Samaritan who helped rescue the driver. Rhodes was driving home from working an overnight shift when he saw the car on fire. He helped get a passenger out of the car, but then realized the driver was still inside.

“The guy was going to die. There was no doubt about it, the car was going to blow up,” said Rhodes. “I’ve seen plenty of movies where it’s going to happen. You could hear it.”

Rhodes says there was a crowd of people nearby and the flames were getting bigger and bigger.

“Everyone just backed up, people were saying get away, get away, it’s going to blow up,” said Rhodes. “I knew the guy was going to die no matter what if we left.”

However, Rhodes didn’t leave. He and Jared Pelletier, a South Windsor volunteer firefighter who also stopped by to help, pulled the driver out. He was unconscious and bleeding. After they got him outside they pulled him away from the burning car.

“As soon as I looked back and he was on the ground the car was engulfed and it just went boom!” said Rhodes.

First responders arrived shortly afterward. Rhodes says it was very hectic. Though he has no training, his instinct was to run to help.

“I’ve been thinking ever since today I’d want to do some paramedic training,” he said.

Police have identified the driver as Sandeep Ahuja of Manchester. He and the passenger were taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital and they’re expected to be okay. Rhodes says he’d be interested in meeting Ahuja one day.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the crash.

Pelletier released the following statement:

Regarding the accident this morning on Rt15 in North Haven, I’d just like to say that I appreciate the recognition, however there were several other motorists that stopped to assist with the rescue. Going on my 6th year in the fire service, I did what was expected of me in this situation; but the others went above and beyond being just a Good Samaritan – the outcome may not have been the same had they not also stopped to help. I wish the driver well and hope he recovers quickly, and extend my thanks to those others that assisted!”

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