Sept. 26--John Tellier helped save someone's life on Tuesday.
And it wasn't his first time.
The La Crosse man was driving south on Hwy. 16 on his way home from work about 6:15 p.m. when he found traffic stopped near the Viterbo University baseball fields.
He saw a car engulfed in flames but no fire trucks.
Tellier ran to the car and joined another passerby, Frank Segura, trying to pry open the jammed door. Segura, who lives near the crash site, said he had just returned home from hiking when he heard tires squealing and the "undeniable crunch of vehicle."
He told his wife to call 911 and ran to help.
The driver was unconscious and the flames were creeping toward his seat as the men tried to save him.
Tellier said a third passerby, Gary Jahr, cut the seat belt's shoulder strap before Tellier lunged into the car to unlatch the lap belt and pull the driver out.
"He was limp like a noodle," he said. "Within 30 seconds, the whole car went up in flames. It was that close."
They laid the driver on the ground, and Segura held a blanket to his head to control the bleeding while Tellier went to check on the second car involved in the crash as firefighters arrived.
La Crosse police say the driver of the car that caught fire was traveling south on Hwy. 16 when he lost control trying to pass a car, traveled into northbound traffic and struck a car driving north head-on.
He was taken a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries and faces a charge of reckless driving, according to police.
The four occupants of the northbound car also were transported with non-life threatening injuries. All were wearing seatbelts.
Police did not release any names from those involved in the crash, which remains under investigation.
In April 2010, Tellier was driving to work when he found a car on fire after it collided with a semi on Hwy. 35 near Goose Island. The driver was stuck in her car and -- just as he did on Tuesday -- Tellier reached into the burning car, unlatched her seatbelt and helped pull her to safety. Her earned an award from the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department.
"When I see someone in trouble, I'm not someone to sit idle," he said. "I thought there was something I could do."
Said Segura: "I wish I could say something profound. The fact of the matter is there was a car on fire and someone was in it. I don't think I could stand there and watch that."
Copyright 2013 - La Crosse Tribune, Wis.