Traffic

Baby rescued, but one person dies in fiery car crash with gas tanker, NC cops say

One person was killed when a car crashed with a gas tanker in North Carolina.
One person was killed when a car crashed with a gas tanker in North Carolina. Facebook Screen Grab

One person was killed in a fiery car crash Thursday, but two people — including a baby — were rescued, the North Carolina Highway Patrol said.

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The Highway Patrol said the collision occurred in Columbus County when the driver of a four-door sedan exited U.S. 74 but ran a stop sign when it entered N.C. 410, WWAY reported.

The car smashed into a gas tanker, sending the truck into the woods off the road, while the car went up in flames, according to the News Reporter.

One person in the car died at the scene, per WECT.

All three might have died if not for the effort of good Samaritans who helped pull the others from the burning vehicle.

“First thing I was thinking is there’s flames coming out of the hood of the car,” John Pfleger, one of the rescuers, said in an interview shared on Facebook. “We got flames down just in time enough to get the driver out, and we knew there was a baby in the car. Got the fire down just enough to get the driver out, woman driver, got her laying down OK. The baby was still in there.”

Pfleger said in the video that he and the other rescuers unsuccessfully tried to break open a car window with the fire extinguisher in an effort to get the baby out, before using a tire iron to smash the glass. Even then, they had to empty three fire extinguishers before they could control the fire and free the baby.

The driver and the baby were both airlifted to an area hospital, according to WWAY. Information on their conditions was unavailable.

The gas tanker driver was not injured in the wreck that closed the highway for several hours and forced traffic detours, WECT reported.

This is the sixth traffic-related death in Columbus County in 2019, per the News Reporter.

Road fatalities, which have steadily declined, are trending upwards in the last few years. Robeson County saw 213 people killed in traffic accidents between 2011 and 2016, giving the county the highest death rate per vehicle in North Carolina.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.