Gerry Harris, of St. Albert, shows the area along Sir Winston Churchill where he pulled a young man from a burning car recently. Harris said he was walking his dogs along the edge of the road when the car caught fire, jumped the boulevard and stalled right in front of him.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette
Tearing a man from a car engulfed in flames was not how Gerry Harris thought he would be spending his Saturday afternoon.
Harris was walking his dogs along Sir Winston Churchill Avenue around 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, when he heard a “big bang” and turned around.
“It was like a batmobile coming at me with a big flame coming out,” said Harris.
The car, a Nissan Altima, was travelling westbound on Sir Winston Churchill by Poirier Avenue, when it swerved and hit the roadway meridian.
“The car was going so fast it just glided across and when it came down on the other side, he was driving on the wrong side of the road and just kept going,” said Harris.
The vehicle rolled 75 to 100 metres, took out some signs and landed back on right side of road, recounted witnesses.
“The car was burning underneath and he (the driver) couldn't see it,” said Harris, who suspects the collision with the meridian ripped a hole in the car's gas tank.
The car stalled just 20 feet away from him.
“I was telling him, ‘Get out of the car, get out of the car! It's on fire! I saw he wasn't moving. I thought he was going to get out himself, but he wasn't.”
Harris then ran over, opened the driver's side door and pulled the 23-year-old man out.
“I told people to call 911 … and seconds later the car was totally engulfed in flames,” Harris said.
St. Albert's Tyler Bunz, Edmonton Oilers goalie prospect, was playing street hockey in the area when the car went up in flames.
“I was driving up and I saw black (smoke) and thought maybe it was a house on fire. You could hear the tires popping, you could tell the car was about to blow,” he said.
“A couple guys had fire extinguishers and were trying to put it out.”
The driver was out of the car by that point, said Bunz.
“You could tell he was pretty shook up, I'm assuming he was lucky to get out of there alive.”
St. Albert Fire Services and EMS arrived in minutes, said witnesses. St. Albert RCMP said there were no injuries.
The driver, Bryan Hanson of Edmonton, was issued a $402 ticket for careless driving.
Harris filed a police report, but has not been in contact with police or the driver since.
“When you see someone in a car that's on fire … you get (them) out of the car!” said Harris. “It's as simple as that.”
NOTE: To post a comment in the new commenting system you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, OpenID. You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile". The St. Albert Gazette welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to delete comments deemed inappropriate. We reserve the right to close the comments thread for stories that are deemed especially sensitive. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher.