2005-06-10 / Front Page

Samaritan Pulls Man From Burning Wreck

Roger Brathwaite, left, and his children take a breather after the emergency responders got to the scene of the accident.Roger Brathwaite, left, and his children take a breather after the emergency responders got to the scene of the accident. A Brooklyn man on his way to Rockaway pulled another driver from a burning, overturned car after seeing it lose control on Cross Bay Boulevard and slam into a fire hydrant.

Robert Brathwaite and his family were heading to Rockaway at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday when his car broke down near the Broad Channel American Legion Hall on Cross Bay Boulevard.

Brathwaite called for a tow and was waiting in his car at about 10:15 p.m., when he glanced in his rear view mirror and saw the car blasting towards him.

Volunteers from the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department, including its chief, Thomas Larkin (right) and firefighter Chris Kalisak assisted EMS personnel in placing the injured motorist in the ambulance.

Volunteers from the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department, including its chief, Thomas Larkin (right) and firefighter Chris Kalisak assisted EMS personnel in placing the injured motorist in the ambulance. “The car lost control – maybe it blew a tire – and it skidded into a fire hydrant and flipped upside down,” Brathwaite recalled.

“My wife and I jumped out of our car and ran to the accident. The car was heavily on fire and we couldn’t tell how many people were in the car.”

Brathwaite said that he thought the car would explode and feared for his wife’s safety. He ran past her and looked into the driver’s side window.

“There was only one man in the car, and he was trying to get out,” the Good Samaritan said. “I opened the door and he leaped into my arms. I know that you’re not supposed to move somebody in an accident, but I wanted to get him away from the car in case it exploded from the flames.

“He identified himself as ‘Ray’ and said that he didn’t want to die.”

Brathwaite, who said he is deeply religious, prayed with his wife after calling 911.

The Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department, the New York City Fire Department and an EMS ambulance all quickly responded.

Firefighters hosed down the car, which spun around and came to rest on its roof and hood. The entire front end of the car was mangled when it hit the hydrant, which was sheared off at its base. The car’s airbags deployed in the crash.

Brathwaite says that, while the event traumatized him and his family, he now believes that God put him in a position to help the crash victim.

“The whole event was a quick moment. Life is precious and you never know what will happen,” he said. “There was nobody else around and if my car hadn’t broken down, I would not have been there either.”

“I felt good in my heart that I could help,” he added.

Braithwaite’s car was towed after the accident.

The driver of the wrecked car remained unidentified and the extent of his injuries was unknown at press time.

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