TAMU Transportation Services Duo Pull Man from Burning Car
“I kept telling him, ‘I’m not going to leave you. … If we go, we go together,’” Joel Luce assured a young man trapped in a burning vehicle as he and co-worker Greg Stuenkel worked to pull the accident victim from the car.
Texas A&M University (TAMU) officials spoke last fall about the two Transportation Services workers who helped with the rescue in the early morning hours of Nov. 14, 2015, on the College Station campus.
Luce, Night-Shift Enforcement Supervisor, was on his way to work when he saw the burning car and flagged down Stuenkel, Facilities Maintenance Leader, to help.
“We are extremely proud of Joel and Greg and the courage they displayed during this extremely dangerous situation,” said Peter Lange, the department’s Executive Director. “Our teammates made the decision to act, and as a result, their heroic efforts saved this man’s life,”
Luce was headed out to the West Campus Garage to begin his duties for the last Aggie home football game of the season. As he approached George Bush Drive, he noticed two people – a man and woman – standing by a vehicle that appeared to have crashed into a tree.
Luce pulled over to check on the couple, believing they were the car’s driver and passenger. To his surprise, someone was trapped in the vehicle that was now in flames.
“As I approached the vehicle, I saw flames under the front of the engine. I knew I had to do something,” Luce said. “I could see the driver. He was bleeding, and his words were slurred, but I heard him say, ‘Please get me out of here.’”
The force of the impact had jammed the vehicle doors. Using his handheld radio, Luce attempted to break the glass in an effort to gain access to the driver. At that moment, he noticed coworker Stuenkel driving by. Seeing Luce, Stuenkel pulled his vehicle over and jumped in to assist.
“I was on my way to pick up signs, and I saw Joel on the side of the road waving me down,” Stuenkel said. “I saw the flames, and when I pulled over, I grabbed the fire extinguisher and started putting out the fire.”
He and Luce worked urgently to gain access to the trapped driver. Stuenkel used a sledge hammer to break the windows. At this time, College Station Police Officer Patricia Marty arrived on-scene and joined rescue efforts.
To add to this struggle, the car caught fire once again. As the flames grew, and the smoke gained in intensity, Luce worked to free the young man from the mangled wreckage. Battling extreme smoke and the rising flames, Luce reassured the driver he was not giving up until the man was free.
With coordinated efforts by Luce, Stuenkel, local law enforcement and fire department personnel, the young driver was successfully pulled from the burning vehicle and transported to Houston for medical care.
[Source: Taken from Texas A & M Today]