Passersby save man, child from fiery wreck

By Brandon Evans | Published Saturday, May 26, 2012

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HEROIC RESCUE - Two passersby to a wreck on U.S. 287 Thursday stopped to render aid and ended up pulling a 4-year-old boy and his trapped 28-year-old father from a pickup truck that rolled over and caught fire. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Quick, selfless actions by witnesses to a wreck saved the life of a 28-year-old man and his 4-year-old boy.

Saul Arevalo de los Reyes of New Fairview was flown from the scene by LifeTeam 68 after he rolled a pickup truck pulling a horse trailer on U.S. 81/287 several miles south of Decatur about 7 Thursday night.

“He was headed north on U.S. 81/287 and the horse trailer started acting squirrely, going from side to side, causing the driver to lose control,” said Department of Public Safety State Trooper Adolfo Patterson. “He ran off the road and flipped over.”

The truck then caught fire leaving the driver, Reyes, trapped inside. Amazingly the boy, strapped into a car seat in the center seat of the pickup, was uninjured. No horses were in the trailer.

One of the first on the scene was Steve Hilton of Wichita Falls. He stopped after he saw the crash and freed the boy from the crushed, enflamed truck, pulling him out of the broken rear window.

“The boy had unstrapped himself from the car seat and was moving frantically back and forth, trying to help his dad,” Patterson said.

Hilton, afraid the burning truck might explode, told the boy to run down the bar ditch where his wife grabbed and comforted the boy until emergency personnel arrived.

He was humble about his efforts.

“It’s just the thing you’re supposed to do,” Hilton said. “You stop and try to help people when you see something like that.”

Hilton then tried to free Reyes from the truck, but the fire had already made the truck too hot. He ran up to the highway and attempted to flag down an 18-wheeler in the hopes of getting a fire extinguisher. At this point, a second witness had pulled over to help.

Miguel Anvures of Cleburne braved the flames and proceeded to pull the man out of the passenger side of the truck.

“I was headed the opposite direction, and all I could see was the horse trailer flipped up,” Anvures said. “I pulled over and ran down there, and the truck was on fire. (Reyes) couldn’t move at all. He kept screaming, ‘Let me out! I don’t want to die!'”

Reyes couldn’t move because the accident had severed his spine. He also had several internal injuries.

“If they hadn’t pulled him out, he would have suffered severe burns, too and probably would of died,” Patterson said.

Anvures was also humble about his actions.

“I just tried to do what I thought was right,” he said. “If that ever happens to me, I hope somebody will do the same for me.”

Reyes was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He was scheduled to undergo back surgery on Friday. Decatur and East Wise fire departments, DPS, Wise County medics, Decatur police and sheriff’s deputies responded.

The northbound lanes were closed for more than half an hour.

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