Car fire rescue

Stephen Haselhorst was driving home from work when he saw a car that had hit a tree and caught on fire. at the intersection of Chancellor Road and Highland Road in Spotsylvania. He pulled the injured driver from the vehicle and with the help of another motorist, got her to safety. Photographed in Spotsylvania, Virginia on Aug. 14, 2019.

Stephen Haselhorst was almost home after a full day of work, but he had a life to save first.

Early Saturday morning, the 19-year-old Haselhorst was traveling west on Chancellor Road in Spotsylvania County after his shift making pizzas in the kitchen of Splitsville at the Spotsylvania Towne Center. Shortly after 1 a.m. and just moments away from his home, he rounded a curve and came upon a sport utility vehicle with its engine on fire.

Looking closer, Haselhorst also noted the vehicle had struck a tree, head on.

“The front—where the engine and the hood was—it was wrapped around the tree. It was smashed in and it was on fire,” he said Wednesday.

As the Mary Washington University sophomore came to a stop near the burning vehicle, he noticed someone in the car who appeared to be in need of assistance.

“She was crying terribly, so, so scared, so I knew I had to help her,” said Haselhorst. “That’s not a condition you want anyone to be in.”

Haselhorst quickly removed the young woman from the burning vehicle and took her to a safe area away from the fire, where he was able to call 911.

While they waited for emergency responders to arrive, another young motorist stopped and helped Haselhorst pull the woman even farther away from the burning vehicle, then left.

Haselhorst noticed blood coming from the woman’s mouth and soon realized that she was in terrible pain. He said he later learned that she had suffered a broken hip in the accident and was taken to a local hospital for treatment and recovery.

“I’m just glad that she’s OK,” Haselhorst said. “That’s really at the core of what matters to me.”

Haselhorst’s father, Stephen, said his son has always been a good person, but extremely shy.

“We’re beyond proud,” the father said. “He’s become a better person because of this, if that’s possible.”

After Saturday’s incident, a volunteer firefighter in Spotsylvania encouraged Haselhorst to consider volunteering with the county’s Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management department.

“Before the whole accident and crash, I probably would have never even thought about it. But now I’m considering it for sure,” said Haselhorst. “I also never thought I would be capable of just jumping in there and dragging someone out of a burning car.”

Haselhorst plans to interview for a volunteer position on the rescue squad this week and said if he’s offered a position, he’ll probably accept.

NBC4 TV in Washington did a story on Haselhorst’s rescue earlier this week and he said all the attention that he has received on social media has been a bit overwhelming for both him and his family.

“But, that’s OK,” he said. “Honestly, I just feel overjoyed that someone is alive because of me.”

James Scott Baron: 540-374-5438

jbaron@freelancestar.com

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