Two members of the public who pulled a crash victim from his car moments before it burst into flames have been commended for their actions by Ian Hayton, Chief Fire Officer, Cleveland Fire Brigade.
The quick response of Matt Heap, 28 and Matthew Johnson, 24, both from Redcar, saved the life of deputy headteacher Mark Kerr, 44, when he passed out at the wheel and veered off the A19 and into a tree and fields at 70mph in May this year.
They were presented with their awards at the start of the Cleveland Fire Authority meeting, Brigade Headquarters, Endeavour House, Hartlepool on Friday July 29 (2pm)
The Chief Fire Officer, said: “There is absolutely no doubt that Mr Kerr would not be here today without the utmost bravery and selfless action of these two men who, with total disregard to any danger to themselves, rushed to the scene and dragged him clear just seconds before the car was engulfed in flames They also looked after him until the emergency services arrived.
“I am delighted to be able to formally commend them both for their outstanding action and I know Mr Kerr has placed on record that he owes these men his life. Matt and Matthew have been very humble about what they did on that day but these commendations are richly deserved
“I am also pleased to see that Mr Kerr, despite a catalogue of injuries, is on the long road to recovery and we wish him well.”
Matt Heap, a former Young Firefighter with Cleveland Fire Brigade, was in the outside lane of the northbound A19 just behind Mr Kerr when he saw the car suddenly veer of the road. He stopped immediately and left his wife, Abby Lewis, to phone the emergency services and look after their four-year-old son Bobby to run to the scene.
The Process Operator with Sabic UK Petrochemicals UK, said: “When I got there with Matthew, the bonnet was smoking. He forced open the driver’s door and got his seat belt off and we dragged him out across the field well away from the car. Moments later the whole car was engulfed in flames.
“I got him in the recovery position and took his jumper off. My main concern was the loss of the blood. I used the jumper to stem the bleeding as much as I could until the police and fire brigade arrived.
“I just did what anybody would do. I am sure the training I received when I was a young firefighter certainly helped.
Matt and Abby met when they were both Young Firefighters in Redcar and were married earlier this month.
Matthew Johnson, a worker with field service specialists Team Furmanite said: “I was about 200 metres ahead checking my mirrors when I saw the car veer off the road. I stopped immediately and ran back. There was already a small fire and I jumped on the bonnet to open the door and get his seat belt off. We then got him well away and helped with as much first aid as we could until the emergency services quickly arrived.
“There wasn’t that much time to think so we just did what we had to do. I have been to see Mark and his family and I know they are very grateful. I am very humbled to receive this award. Anybody else would have done the same. “
Mr Kerr, from Billingham, works at Willowfields Primary School in Sunderland and was a former teacher at The Village Primary School in Thornaby.
He said, “The word hero is often diminished by being branded about too much but in this case it is absolutely true. I know the two guys are very humble about their actions and just say they did what anyone else would have done. But there is no doubt their quick-thinking actions saved my life.”