Watch: Bystanders save Pennsylvania man trapped in burning car

Posted at 12:02 PM, Mar 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-10 14:02:23-04

YORK, Pa.  - Fast-acting bystanders saved an elderly Pennsylvania man trapped inside a burning car Saturday morning.

The owner of a nearby restaurant said he was one of the first people to see something was terribly wrong and notice the smoking car. He ran outside and realized the car was occupied.

“I started walking outside and realized, 'Oh my God, there’s flames coming out,'" Calogero Elia, owner of the Iron Horse York said. 

Employees from the Iron Horse York, along with people driving by, worked together in the elderly man's moment of need.

“His seatbelt was stuck. I was trying to get the seatbelt unhooked and he is telling me, 'No no no go get some water,'" Elia said. 

With a fire extinguisher in hand, Elia said he was trying to put the flames out while another person cut the man's seatbelt off. 

Together, a group of people helped to pull the man out of the car.

“I was trying to get his legs to stop burning because his pants were on fire," Elia said.

York City Fire officials said the people who stopped to help the man - putting themselves in danger in the process - likely saved his life.

“If it wouldn’t have been for the good Samaritans that stopped to help and the employees here we would have had a completely different outcome on this incident," Chief Chad Deardorff said.

He said the fire was caused by a "lit smoking material" that was dropped by the driver in the vehicle.

The driver was taken to WellSpan York Hospital and is currently in the intensive care unit.