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Father-Son duo save man's life

North Charleston Engineer Buddy Atkins and his son Philip assisted in saving the life of a man involved in a fiery & deadly head on collision on Cottageville Hwy.




Engineer Buddy Atkins day started like most others. He along with his 14 year old son Philip and 10 year old daughter Ashley were on there way to the Ritter Hunting Club when he came upon one of the worst wrecks he had seen in his life.

"When we drove up, I knew that the scene was going to be bad" he said. "One car was on fire under the hood and the other was sitting in gasoline".

What he and his son did next was nothing short of heroic.

Acting on instinct, Buddy rushed up to the scene and surveyed the damage for any signs of life. He quickly looked in the car that was burning.

Seeing no one in the early morning darkness, he moved to the other car that was involved. The driver was pinned in the vehicle and was bleeding profusely from numerous injuries he had sustained from the impact.

His son, Philip, quickly followed his father. "I was not going to let my dad get into any trouble and not put myself into a position to help get him out", he explained.

Buddy, his son and another civilian pulled the door open and proceeded to pull the driver out of the unburned car.

"The was gas everywhere", Buddy said. "We were standing in a pool of it that had gathered under the Crown Vic. We had to get that guy out immediately because we thought the car was going to catch fire"!

Buddy reached deep into the vehicle to manipulate the man's broken leg's so they could remove him from the wreckage. After a tense few minutes, Buddy and Philip moved the man to safety.

That was when he decided to look at the other car again.

Going to the passenger side, he looked in and this time he saw a man lying on his back across the front seat. "It was still dusk when the wreck happened and it was hard to see when I glanced in the car the first time. I saw the guy because of the glow of the fire underneath the dash".

The Chevrolet Impala had taken a tremendous blow and the front doors where both jammed shut from the impact.

Buddy yanked open the rear passenger door and entered the burning vehicle. With his son and another bystander pulling from the outside he proceeded to push from the inside, trying to get the front passenger door open.

When this did not work, he tried to pull the unconscious driver over the seat and out the back. "He was hung up on something real bad. He would not budge".

By this time the fire had engulfed much of the front of the vehicle and was blazing 6' to 10' high. Smoke and fire starting to fill the passenger compartment.

"I had to get out and take a breath and then jump back in several times. The heat was getting awful".

Buddy tried several more times to remove the driver but was not successful.

After his shirt sleeve caught fire and his eyebrows were singed on his face... he knew it was time to get out.

"That fire that engulfed the Impala was huge! I tried my best to get the driver out. I only wish I could have had a few more minutes... maybe the outcome would have been different".

Coughing from his smoke filled lungs and nursing his burned face he pulled his son close and was thankful that Philip was safe.

Asked if he would have done anything different, Buddy said "The scene was very chaotic. I am completely satisfied that we did everything we could possibly do to with what was available".