This is a copy of an interview with the FF done by KXAN, an Austin, Tx. news station, last night. My fire department was called to the scene for the extrication of the victims.
One Bastrop teenager was killed and another was severely burned after the accident last night on Highway 71, just east of Highway 21. Now KXAN has the story of the off-duty Austin firefighter who came to the rescue.
That person was 17-year old Erik Martinez. His truck plunged over a rail and into a creek. The truck burst into flames, trapping him inside. John Banning just happened to drive by. He also happens to be a firefighter in Austin and a volunteer firefighter in Smithville. He was off-duty at the time but responded as if he were in uniform.
"I heard somebody screaming, 'Get me out, get me out. I'm on fire.' So I went down and saw a gentleman trapped in the car.
"I was unable to get him out and the fire kept getting up closer to us," said Banning. "I was finally able to notice that the seatbelt had him trapped. So I cut the seatbelt and basically pulled real hard and got him out."
Banning saved Martinez's life. Unfortunately no one knew at the time that Martinez had a passenger in the car -- his friend, 17-year old Omar Lozano.
Both of the teens were seniors at Bastrop High School. And in this small community, many mourn the loss. Even people who didn't know them, like Darren Lamb, who put up a cross at the site.
"I just got really down about it and I thought, 'What good can come out of it?'. And this is all I thought to do," Lamb said.
Banning suffered second- and third-degree burns to his hand.
Chf. Mike Norman of the Bastrop Volunteer Fire Dept. said, "I said 'Are you hurt?' And he kinda looked down at his hands and he had skin hangning off his arms and his clothes was still smoking and he said 'Oh, well, maybe I am'. And we took him over to the paramedics. He was so charged up by the rescue he didn't realize how badly he was burned."
Banning is being called a hero by many people, but Banning downplays that idea.
"I guess I was just supposed to be there," he said. "I wish I could've done more. It's just all I could do."
Erik Martinez was burned below the waist. He remains in critical condition at Brooke Army Medical Center's burn unit in San Antonio.
The accident is still under investigation.
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01-08-2002, 10:11 AM #1
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Off duty FF get burned while saving teen!
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