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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Quick Action by a Bystander Saves Williamsburg Truck Driver’s Life

Catie Burnett helped save the life of Eric after a fuel tanker fire on I-64. (Catie Burnett)

WILLIAMSBURG — Quick action by a passing motorist recently helped save a local truck driver’s life.

On March 26, Eric, a driver with J.S.G. Corporation, was driving eastbound on Interstate 64. After blowing a front tire, Eric lost control of the fuel transport truck, which collided with the median and took out several trees before rolling over. Eric was pinned in the cab as diesel fuel began pouring out of the truck before igniting near his head.

That’s when a witness to the accident, Catie Burnett, swung into action. Running towards the fire, Burnett located the fire extinguisher on the vehicle and put out the blaze. Once the fire was out, she tended to the driver and talked with him before first responders arrived.

“I cannot take any credit for this at all. It was all God and he told me exactly what to do. I was shaking like a leaf, I was crying, and everyone thought I was traumatized. I stayed with him like he was my child and I would not leave his side. They used the Jaws of Life and cut him out. There had to be about 50 people onsite trying to help the situation. They got him out quickly and they let me stay with him. He was then air-lifted to the hospital. The day after the accident, J.S.G. called to thank me for my response,” Burnett recalled.

After visiting Eric in the hospital, Burnett cried tears of joy to see that he was okay.

“He is one of the most positive, uplifting, faithful people that I know. He couldn’t be more gracious about all of this. He just wants to heal and go back to work,” Burnett said.

The accident and response have since changed Burnett’s life. She has now decided to explore her options when it comes to a career (she left a position as a business developer for a mortgage firm) and ultimately wants to do something in medicine.

“I want to be in a trauma operating room so that when patients like Eric come in, I can be there. He truly woke me up. I wanted to be in nursing for my entire life and sometimes life just gets away from you and you just settle. That day of the accident changed my life. It’s crazy how a tragedy that could have been so awful has led to so many blessings,” Burnett said.

Burnett refers to Eric her “Earthside hero.”

“He’s literally changed my whole life. It’s been a wild, crazy, unbelievable journey and I have been so blessed by this man and this horrific experience,” Burnett said.

Matt Stauch, General Manager of J.S.G. Corporation, provided a brief update on Eric’s condition.

“He’s home and he’s recovering. He had a broken bone in his lower leg, he had some serious bumps and bruises but we’re thinking he’s going to come back to work. Eric is very eager to get back to work. He is the kind of person who doesn’t want to be sitting around the house, he doesn’t want to be idle, he loves having things to do, he’s a very active individual. Work is a great source of pride and stimulus for him. He really enjoys what he does,” Stauch said.

Eric and his family simply ask for prayers as he continues on his healing journey. Once healed, Burnett and Eric hope to bring their families together to meet.

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