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Appalachian Power Employee Recognized for Pulling a Stranger From a Burning Car

by on August 6, 2018
Appalachian Power Company Technician Fred Bryant (second from left) received the AEP Chairman’s Life Saving Award from (from left) Appalachian Power President and COO Chris Beam, AEP Vice President for Safety and Health Natalie McCord and Appalachian Power DIstribution Vice President Phil Wright last week in Lynchburg.

(Story by Teresa Hall)

There are many words that one could use to describe Fred Bryant’s actions when he risked his own safety to pull a stranger from a burning car, but Bryant isn’t comfortable with being singled out or called a hero. A humble man, Bryant said what he did that June day is what anyone would have done to help a person in need.

The longtime Lynchburg, Va., technician was headed to a dental appointment last year with his wife, Angie, when they noticed a crashed vehicle in a ditch along a rural road near Forest.

“I saw the car and just reacted,” said Bryant, a former volunteer firefighter, who is CPR and first aid certified through the company.

When Bryant approached the car, he saw that the sole occupant was a male driver. Bryant and a second man who stopped to help tried to coax the driver out of the car, but Bryant said the motorist appeared to be in shock.

Bryant was on the passenger side communicating with the driver when he saw flames starting to form beneath the car. As a former firefighter, Bryant knew the outcome could be deadly if they didn’t act fast to distance themselves from the vehicle.

The smoke and flames soon forced Bryant and the other Good Samaritan to the driver’s side of the vehicle.

The driver’s side door was jammed and the situation was growing more intense by the second. “The smoke was thick, the flames were getting hotter and being this close to the car, we were having a hard time breathing,” Bryant said.

Fred Bryant and several bystanders tend to a crash victim while awaiting fire and rescue personnel. Photo courtesy of Bryant’s wife, Angie.

By now, the victim was feeling the effects of the heat and flames on his skin. Fortunately, another person who had stopped had a sharp knife to cut the man’s seatbelt. Bryant and the second man he’d been working with together pulled the driver through the window and away from the burning car. From there, two other bystanders helped the pair drag the crash victim as far from the car as possible.

“I was very nervous when the fire erupted and he wouldn’t leave the car,” the Appalachian Power technician recalled. Within minutes of getting the driver out, Bryant said he heard a loud bang as the tires and car exploded.

The situation could have easily had a tragic outcome. “I’m just thankful it worked out like it did,” Bryant said.

The driver suffered second and possibly third degree burns to the back of his arms and on his legs and was taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center for treatment.

“I just did what anyone would have done that day,” said Bryant after he received the AEP Chairman’s Life Saving Award last week in Lynchburg. Earlier this year, Bryant also received an American Red Cross Hero Award in the Emergency Response category for his actions. “I’m not a hero. I’m just someone who was there and helped another person in need.”

From → Safety

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