OLDMANS Twp., N.J. (CBS) – A nine-year-old boy is alive and recovering in the hospital thanks mostly to the efforts of a Salem County man, who spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News.
Police say Richard Vaughan pulled Hakeem Crain from the burning car he was in after a fiery crash along Interstate 295 in Oldmans Township, N.J. Monday evening. Crain is being treated at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, suffering from a broken femur. (see related story)
Vaughan says he’s not a hero, he was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
“I believe the Lord puts you where you need to be,” he said. “When you’re faced with something like that, you have to take the measure of a life, and the boy’s life was more valuable than mine.”
Vaughan said he and his wife were driving their normal route home from work, but just happened to leave a little later than normal. When they got near exit seven in Oldmans Township, they noticed a group of people parked on the median. Then, Vaughan saw the flames. He says he was the only one who ran for the car, even though about a dozen people were already gathered there.
“I think everybody there was afraid,” he said. “It’s okay to be afraid, but you have to put one step in front of the other and do something.”
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Vaughan says he yelled into the car and only the boy responded.
Right around that point, he got some help.
“I pulled the fire extinguisher out of my back seat and ran straight for the burning car,” said Jon Parkinson, who drove up around that point. He said he acted on instinct.
“Once I heard there was a child, you just don’t think, you just react,” he said. “I would do that for anyone’s child. I hope someone would do it for mine.”
Parkinson and Vaughan moved the boy away from the car and stayed with him until medics arrived.
The boy told them he was in the car with his mother, Jessie Jones, and two other men: Manuel Marshall and Arthur Briscoe, one of whom was his mother’s boyfriend. They are from Maryland.
Reported by Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3