A mother who had given birth to her third child just 4 days prior is being hailed a hero for pulling a truck driver to safety minutes before his truck exploded. Holly McNally and her mother were headed back from visiting her newborn son in the neonatal intensive care unit On February 20 of last year when they were among the first on scene to a tanker that had crashed and flipped over.
The incident happened in Indianapolis when the semi truck hit the guardrail as it was headed up the onramp of I-465 and I-70. The impact split the truck in two, causing an initial explosion which would shortly be followed by a second, more powerful one.
McNally came upon the scene and noticed the driver was still inside the truck. In an interview with NBC NEWS, she said:
“I stopped, and I see a lot of other people stopping too, and they’re taping and watching, but nobody was doing anything. I said, ‘I cant sit here and watch this man run around and maybe perish in front of me,’ so I took off running.”
Another man, Mitch Navarre, had also stopped and to help. He reached 59-year-old truck driver Jeffrey Denman and managed to pull him out of the burning semi. Denman was on fire and Navarre was able to put it out using his coat, but Denman was in shock and severely injured and wasn’t moving away from the wreckage. Then, a small explosion erupted and prompted the men to quickly start moving away from the crash.
When Holly reached the men she noticed a liquid pouring out of the truck and surrounding the ground they were standing on. That’s when the second explosion occurred. Of her thoughts in the moment she said:
“It was getting up there, getting him put out and finding out was running down my shoes. I asked him, ‘What’s your name?’, and he said ‘Jeffrey.’ And I said, ‘Jeffrey, what were you hauling, what’s rushing past us?’ And he said: ‘Jet fuel.'”
McNally knew if they didn’t get away from the crash site quickly, all three of them were in danger of being engulfed in flames. Jeff was struggling to move due to the extent of his injuries so McNally tried to motivate him by saying:
“I’ve got a baby I’ve got to make it home to, and you probably have a family too, so we have got to go Jeff.”
The trio managed to make it safely away from the wreckage and were eventually met by fire and rescue personnel who quickly got to work tending to both the burning truck and Jeff’s injuries. Denman was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Of her impulsive decision to put her life in danger to save another, Holly says:
“I had just left my baby that I got to bring into this world, and I didn’t want to see a life go out of this world. I was thinking in my head, ‘I’ve got to get to my baby, but I’ve got to save him. I could have not seen my baby again, you know, he would have never known me.” But, “it would have been OK going down saving somebody.”
Unfortunately, Jeffrey Dunman passed away 16 days after the accident due to the severity of his injuries.