“We see a plume of smoke, huge smoke, it looked like a warehouse was on fire,” said new mom Holly McNally.
McNally had been driving with her mother on the east side of Indianapolis when they came across a turned-over semi-truck.
“I slowed down, and I saw the actual semi on fire, and I look to the front of the semi and I see a man on fire,” McNally said. “And I’m scanning and people are videotaping and watching, but no one was going over there. So I told my mom, ‘I’m stopping, I’m going over there.’”
McNally got out of the car and ran towards the truck, where another man put the fire out on the driver. Then, they realized there was another problem as they watched the truck fire continue to spread.
“We got him out, and we start to walk away and I see this huge stream of liquid and I could smell it,” McNally said. “I said ‘Jeff (truck driver ) … what were you hauling?’ And he said ‘jet fuel.'”
About 4,000 gallons of jet fuel was spilling out of the overturned semi, soaking McNally’s shoes. The fire was getting larger, and the three had to move fast.
“We’re trying to carry him down and it’s getting closer and closer, and the second explosion went off,” McNally said. “Smoke was hitting us and I was just praying like, ‘God, please let us get out of here so I can see my baby.’”
Before coming across the crash, McNally had just left the NICU at the hospital where her 3-day-old son, Connor, had been since his birth Monday.
“I thought, what if that’s my son,” McNally said of seeing the driver on fire. “What if that’s Connor when he’s 30, would you want somebody to just leave him there?”
The three made it away from the fire as first responders began arriving. McNally hopes her actions and the actions of the two other good Samaritans will inspire others to act.
“My mom was like, ‘I can’t believe you didn’t just run away,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m not gonna leave somebody,'” McNally said. “I wish everybody was like that, you know? I mean everybody should help everybody.”
The 59-year-old truck driver was badly burned and was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Trucking company Jet Star Inc. released the following statement on Friday:
We would like to thank everyone for the amazing outpouring of support, prayers and concern for our driver Jeffrey “Duke” Denman following yesterday’s tragedy involving one of our trucks on the east side of Indianapolis. We are grateful that no one else was injured or involved. We would also like to offer a heartfelt “thank you” to the brave “Good Samaritan’s” that rushed to aid our driver and help him escape from further harm. We would also like to thank all of the first responders and various public safety agencies involved, firefighters, EMS, EMA, law enforcement and INDOT.