A 28-year-old woman was spared a fiery death because Eddie Hall was there.
Hall, a fire protection specialist with Pye-Barker Fire & Safety, was driving his work van shortly before 1 p.m. Monday when he merged onto Interstate 26 from Dorchester Road.
The 41-year-old North Charleston man didn’t make it far before a group of men and women waved him down from the side of the road.
“I could hear a woman screaming, but I couldn’t quite tell where her screams were coming from,” Hall said.
That’s when Hall learned that a woman’s Honda Accord had rammed into a tree, he said.
Rapidly growing flames licked at the twisted metal wedged down in the embankment. The injured driver was trapped inside.
The circumstances were dire, Hall said, and time was running out. But the key to the woman’s survival was in the back of his van.
Hall was traveling with about 14 fire extinguishers when the wreck occurred. One by one, Hall and other passersby grabbed the extinguishers and fought back the flames and thick, gray smoke as best they could.
“I’ve been in fire situations before, but nothing this critical,” Hall said.
The effort was difficult from his vantage point above the flames, he said.
“You have to get at the base of the fire where the accelerant is,” Hall said. “But with the position of the vehicle, there was no way for us to get to the base on the other side.”
Several North Charleston police officers approached the wreckage from a side street on the other side of the brush, closer to the base of the fire.
Hall threw several of his extinguishers down to the officers after they had exhausted their own.
North Charleston police Sgt. Scott Hille said about four cruisers arrived at the wreckage. Each cruiser was equipped with only one extinguisher, he said.
It took about 18 extinguishers to suppress the flames and save the woman, Hall said.
“They cut her out of the vehicle and put her in an ambulance,” Hall said. “They had her neck braced and I could see that her right femur bone was sticking out of her leg, but I could tell that she was conscious, so that was enough for me.”
S.C. Highway Patrol Senior Trooper Bridget Wyant identified the driver as Shana Porter of North Carolina. Porter’s car struck a taxi and a concrete barrier before it slammed into the tree in the embankment, Wyant said.
Witnesses reported that the woman had attempted to use the emergency lane to pass several vehicles before the wreck occurred, Wyant said.
Porter was taken to Medical University Hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the wreck.
A hospital official said that Porter’s condition had improved since she was first admitted. She was listed in serious condition Thursday afternoon.
Hille said that Hall being there played a crucial role in the woman’s survival.
“Without a doubt in my mind, she would have perished if he wasn’t there. There’s absolutely no other way around it,” Hille said. “Every once in a while the sun, the moon and the stars align to allow you to make a difference in this world. This was one of those times.”
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.
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