Good Samaritan, Cops Rescue Driver Trapped in Burning Car, Video Shows

Dramatic cell phone video shows the car in flames as a 23-year-old woman is trapped behind the wheel

By Greg Cergol
|  Friday, Nov 22, 2013  |  Updated 7:26 PM EDT
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Good Samaritans rush in to pull a woman caught in a burning car at a Lake Grove intersection in Suffolk County. Greg Cergol reports.

NBC 4 New York

Good Samaritans rush in to pull a woman caught in a burning car at a Lake Grove intersection in Suffolk County. Greg Cergol reports.

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A good Samaritan and two Suffolk police officers helped rescue a Long Island woman trapped in a burning car Thursday, dramatic cell phone video shows. 

Three cars collided at an intersection in Lake Grove, and one of them burst into flames.  

"Everyone was screaming, just trying to help," said Keisha Grant, a passerby who shot video of the scene.

Cries of "Oh, my God" and "Pull her out" could be heard on Grant's video as the car burned.

David Ayala, a father of two who was heading to his Centerach home, and Suffolk police officers David Vlacich and Bryan Boudreaux answered those calls for help. 

"It's a life. I'd expect someone to do it for me," said Ayala. 

Ayala smashed the passenger side window and climbed into the burning car. At first, he was unable to free the driver, 23-year-old Stephanie McNamee. The Holbrook woman was slumped over the steering wheel and her legs were entangled in the wreckage.

"When I looked up and saw fire above my head, that’s when I knew it was getting serious and we had to do something fast," Ayala said.

The police officers then provided the extra hands needed to complete the rescue.

"The driver’s door was kinked and wedged shut, and the window was broken so I just reached in, put her in a bear hug and pulled up," said Vlacich.

"The flames were intense, but I just kept my back to the flames and shoved her as they pulled," added Boudreaux.

McNamee was rushed to the hospital with head injuries and was listed in serious condition. Drivers from the other two cars escaped serious injury.

The cause of both the accident and the fire are unclear, police said. Investigators are now working to reconstruct the scene to provide answers.

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