Area Residents Rescue Man from Car Fire on SH 7

Area residents helped a man narrowly escape a vehicle on State Highway 7 West when it became engulfed in flame on Friday, November 28, 2014.

Residents in the area and passersby rushed to help the driver as emergency personnel were on the way to the scene.

Jill Parker was on the phone when it happened and she described hearing a loud skid and a collision. She says she knew exactly what it was, as a crash occurred just recently on State Highway 7 near her home, "I took off and when I got down [to the wreck] he was unconscious in the vehicle, it was smoking," said Parker. She stated one of the passersby that stopped to help is an EMT, "We kind of both decided it was best, we asked him, to get him out because he was coming to."

Rachelle Bohannon and Roy Beck were driving by and Bohannon described what happened when they stopped to help, "We were driving [east] and he slams on the brakes," said Bohannon. "[Parker] was the only one [at the car] except the children that were [at the car] with her and she was all up inside the car trying to see if he was okay."

As Parker and Bohannon were trying to check on the driver, it became apparent he needed to get clear of the vehicle, "`That was my first thing is I was going to check his pulse and then I looked in the hood and saw flames, so I was like okay we've got to get him out first," said Bohannon.

Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Adam Renfro was dispatched to the scene along with Center Police Officers Jim Blackwell, Michelle Ashworth and members of the Center Fire Department. When the firemen arrived, the vehicle was an inferno on wheels as it was completely engulfed in flames and the fire had spread to the woods. It was uncertain at that time if anyone else was involved in the crash and if they may have been inside of the car.

As the firemen began work to extinguish the flames, Jason Burch with Hughes Wrecker Service assisted them in putting water to the fire. Once the fire was extinguished the search continued to ensure no one had been inside the vehicle when it burned or ejected from the vehicle when it crashed.

Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Daniel Dellenger investigated the crash and according to him, at 7:10pm 1 mile west of FM 711 a blue 2001 Volkswagen Beetle registered to Manuel Contreras and driven by Daniel Morales Ruiz, 46, was traveling east at the time of the incident. For an unknown reason the Volkswagen traveled across the westbound traffic lanes and left the roadway before colliding with an embankment.

Ruiz was transported by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries and alcohol is suspected to have been involved.

The crash remains under investigation.