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Landscapers hailed as heroes after saving woman from burning vehicle in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

May 01. 2013 10:11PM
A resident of Manchester Avenue in Nashua tends to a woman who was pulled from her car by three men from a landscaping crew shortly before her car was engulfed in flames. (COURTESY)

NASHUA - Three men from a landscaping crew working on Manchester Avenue are being called heroes by Nashua fire officials for risking their lives to pull a woman from a burning car.

Shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jose Palacios and Joshua Parker of Nashua and David Sampson of Billerica, Mass., who work for Water's Edge Landscape Associates of Nashua, were jolted from their work by the sound of a loud bang.

"We were working in the backyard on a patio, and we heard the crash. We didn't know what it was because she never hit the brakes. But when we went over we saw instantly it was a car accident and that the car had flames coming out of the bottom," Sampson said.

Without time to think, Sampson said that Parker ran to retrieve a fire extinguisher while he and Palacios ran to remove the woman from the car.

"Jose took the bull by the horns. I was his helper. We had to get her out. First you think that you can't move her, so I hesitated for a second, but I had to choose the lesser of two evils. You have to get her out," Sampson said.

He said that within five minutes of the crash, the car was engulfed in flames.

"It was pretty scary. We were at the right place at the right time, and we got her out and put her on the ground. It was just like the movies," Sampson said.

Nashua fire officials quickly knocked down the fire once they arrived on the scene shortly after the blaze was reported. However, according to Deputy Fire Chief Karl Gerhard, the three men should be considered heroes for their actions.

"I think the guys did a great job. They put themselves in a considerable amount of risk, but they did make a difference, and it was a positive outcome because of that," Gerhard said.

Gerhard added that the female occupant of the car, who he refused to name, would not have survived if she had not been immediately removed from the car, as the fire was extra hazardous and intense due to leaking flammable liquids.

Once Sampson and Palacios reached the car, Sampson said that the occupant of the car was clearly hurt and asking about a baby. Noticing a child seat in the back, Sampson said he and Palacios made sure the 35-year old driver was the sole occupant. Once they verified she was, they removed her from the car and placed her on a nearby lawn were local residents began to care for her.

"That was good, it felt good to make a difference. We didn't think about it at the time, but I feel fortunate we were there, it could have been a lot worse," Sampson said.

Once firefighters arrived, the woman was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua for treatment of a possible head injury and lower extremity injuries.

According to fire officials, Nashua police are investigating the cause of the crash.

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