BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) — A van with an elderly couple crashed into a cement dividing wall on Interstate 65 at the Brentwood-Nashville line on Thursday.
The incident happened around noon when the van hit the wall at highway speed and grinded to a stop.
Even though the van’s front end was wedged into the cement wall, the back tires were rapidly spinning and churning up shredded rubber. This caused massive heat which eventually caused the van to catch fire.
With white smoke rapidly filling the highway, multiple motorists who witnessed the crash pulled over and then risked their own safety, rushing across four lanes of traffic to get to the injured driver and his female passenger.
Amani Kelly was one of the first on the scene.
“Then I saw this vehicle on fire, around the tire area. A few men ran over and got the woman out of the vehicle. Then, we realized there was a man in the van as well,” said Kelly.
Kyle Tortorelli dashed across the interstate, holding up his hands, stopping traffic as he approached the smoldering van with the two senior citizens.
“It was scary. I was hoping traffic would stop. I saw wheels spinning. I ran across four lanes of traffic to turn the engine off. I got to the keys. It was blowing smoke. He was passed out cold inside,” said Tortorelli.
After about two minutes, half a dozen citizens are now standing around the van. Some motorists have suppressed the fire with extinguishers. Meanwhile, other citizens worked as a unit to carry the driver from the smoldering van with the Ohio plates.
Kelly says he was proud of his fellow motorists for rushing to the seniors’ aid.
“Yes, absolutely. It was not a second guess on my part or anyone else’s part. It was good to see everyone come together”
And then there is Dr. Chris Andershock. The emergency room physician also happened to be in the traffic and came upon the crash moments after it happened. Andershock assisted the unconscious driver in the van and then assisted carrying him across the interstate to the side of the road where there was more room to put him down and assess his situation.
“Single car accident are usually medical issues. He passed out. He has no recollection of the event,” said Dr. Andershock.
After a few moments, the senior citizen is awake and alert sitting on the tailgate with the passenger.
“I knew we had to get in there and save someone’s life,” Tortorelli said.
As Metro ambulances and fire arrive on scene, the mood on the side of the road lightens as Good Samaritans shake hands and celebrate with smiles. By this time, the two seniors are seated on the back of a pickup truck tailgate, and they are talking and do not appear to be injured.
“It touched my heart. The same thing happened to my grandparents years ago. So it really did touch my heart,” said Kelly.
“I’m glad everyone did stop so we could assist them and get them the care they need,” said Tortorelli.