Witnesses Pull Man From Burning SUV After Crash Into Building in Sunrise

SUV crashes into apartment building and catches fire, witnesses pull driver out.

By Christina Hernandez
|  Monday, Sep 16, 2013  |  Updated 6:58 PM EDT
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Witnesses helped save a man from his burning SUV after he crashed into an apartment building in Sunrise Monday morning. Iris Melendez, Julian Pierre-Louis, Hal Phillips and Emmanuel Garcia described what happened.

Witnesses helped save a man from his burning SUV after he crashed into an apartment building in Sunrise Monday morning. Iris Melendez, Julian Pierre-Louis, Hal Phillips and Emmanuel Garcia described what happened.

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Witnesses helped save a man from his burning SUV after he crashed into an apartment building in Sunrise Monday morning.

The incident happened around 11:30 a.m. when the SUV crashed through landscaping and into the Water Bridge Apartment Complex at 5945 Delago Circle.

A witness said the vehicle burst info flames once it hit the building. Neighbors with fire extinguishers were able to put the flames out and pull the man to safety before rescue crews arrived, witnesses said.

Hal Phillips was one of the people who put out the fire, while Julian Pierre-Louis also helped save the driver.

Pierre-Louis said at first he tried to pull him outside by opening the door but couldn't.

"The door is locked. I have to break the window, the glass. I put my hand and opened the door, talked to him, get out," he said.

Rescue crews took the man, who wasn't identified, to a nearby hospital where his condition was unknown.

The driver plowed through landscaping, went across a parking lot and took out a tree before his vehicle came to a crashing stop.

The crash left a small hole in Emmanuel Garcia's apartment closet, but he wasn't worried about it. He said those who aided the victim were "definitely heroes."

"Whoever took care of it, I'm more than grateful for it. Because from what it looks like, I don't know how they dragged him out of there," he said.

Iris Melendez recounted how she heard a big explosion and saw smoke.

“I screamed because the car went – poof – on fire," she said. "And I screamed 'break with extinguishers' and they did and they pulled the man out too. To safety."

Melendez added, "If it wasn't for those men, this man would've died in that car in a ball of fire because that's what it was there – a ball of fire."

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