CARTER COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – An emergency medical services technician and a sheriff’s lieutenant are being hailed heroes after they pulled a man from a burning vehicle on Saturday night. Both men happened to be driving by the scene of a fatal head on collision on Highway 362 at the intersection of Jim Elliot Road when they stopped to help.
Officials with Tennessee Highway Patrol tell us that 47-year-old Viencen Hitecheew was killed in the accident. While the other victim in this crash, 33-year-old Jerry Oaks survived.
Sean Ochsenbein was on his way back from a ski trip with his fiancee when he saw the crash and immediately got out to help.
“When I got out of the car I saw there was fire dripping from the bottom of the vehicles from oil and having prior experience in EMS I knew that we didn’t have a lot of time,” Sean Ochsenbein said
A trained EMT with Putnam County, Ochsenbein quickly went to work, but he wasn’t alone.
Lt. William Buchanan with the Avery County, N.C. Sheriff’s Office was driving by and stopped at the scene.
“I believe God puts us at certain places at certain times to help people, and I believe that was the case,” Lt. Buchanan said.
According to THP, car one was traveling northbound in the southbound lane on Highway 362 when it hit car two head-on.
The man in car two, Viencen Hitechew, died at the scene. The other victim, Jerry Oaks, remained trapped inside his burning vehicle.
“We started trying to pull him out through the window and that was not successful, he was trapped at his knees below under the dash,” Ochsenbein said.
Ochsenbein said he tried to enter the car from the rear to pull the man out.
“A plume of smoke hit me in the face and I knew that I could not climb through the back, the fire was inside the car, it was on the dash and it was on the headliner,” Ochsenbein said.
Ochsenbein then remembered a towing strap that he had in his car. He and Lt. Buchanan were able to use that strap to pull the Jeep’s door open and get the victim to safety.
“I just believe god put a bubble around all of us because I didn’t feel the flames and didn’t get burnt at all,” Lt. Buchanan said.
Out of this tragedy shines the heroic efforts of two men who risked their lives to save another. THP said alcohol was a factor in the crash.
Authorities said charges are pending in the case.
Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.