Man pulls woman from burning car

Maclean man Jack Purcell put his own life at risk to drag a woman from a burning car north of the Harwood Bridge on the Pacific Highway on Saturday.
Maclean man Jack Purcell put his own life at risk to drag a woman from a burning car north of the Harwood Bridge on the Pacific Highway on Saturday. Debrah Novak

THE only thoughts racing through Jack Purcell's mind while he was dragging a Queensland woman from the wreckage of her burning car near the Harwood Bridge on Saturday was that of his own family and the safety of the woman.

Jack, a rugby league player from Maclean, was heading to Lismore at about 12.45pm on Saturday when a two-car collision occurred 500 metres north of the Harwood turnoff within the 80kmh zone.

“I was only three cars behind when the accident happened and realised that one of the cars involved was my uncle's. I parked the car and ran over to them first to make sure everyone was OK,” Jack said.

“My cousins DJ and Shane Eamons were helping my uncle out of the car because they could see smoke coming from the engine.”

Jack said his cousins had been on their way to Iluka for a local rugby union match between the Buccaneers and the Cossacks.

“When I knew they were OK I looked over to the other car and I saw a fire sparking under the petrol tank but nobody moving inside the car,” Jack said.

Jack said he was pretty scared for a first-time hero, but thoughts of his own personal safety were quickly pushed aside in favour of preserving a life and the knowledge he was doing the right thing for someone in desperate need of help.

“I ran over and the lady in the driver's seat appeared to be dazed and in shock. I couldn't get the door opened so I smashed the window in to get her out. As I was undoing her seatbelt she was speaking to me and the flames were now shooting up both sides of the car boot.”

Within a minute of Jack pulling the woman out of the car, it erupted in flames and was quickly reduced to a bare metal chassis.

Shortly after, emergency services arrived on the scene and took control.

The 50-year-old woman Jack pulled from the car had sustained serious injuries in the crash and died shortly after being transported to Lismore Base Hospital.

However, there is no doubt the fact that Jack rescuing her from the burning car had at least given her a fighting chance at survival.

Police officer in charge at the scene Senior Constable Nick Dixon hailed Jack as a “hero” and commended his quick thinking and bravery.

Topics:  car crash fire harwood bridge pacific highway

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