How many times have you stopped while driving to help someone in need? We encounter different accidents on the roads ranging from the usual flat tires to the fatal ones. Two good Samaritans who go by the names Steven Hill from Dearborn, Michigan and Jason Nelson encountered such an incident on one morning of November 2015. The two who are both movers were on their way to drop-off a trailer in Suddath Relocation on Western Way when they stumbled over a burning vehicle.
Hill and Jason had earlier planned to spend their night at Jacksonville, but they later made a last-minute call to deliver a moving trailer to a client. It was that last-minute whim that allowed them to see the horrific crash.
They only saw a flame at first, which they assumed was from a campfire. But later they confirmed it was a vehicle as they drew near to check if there were people inside.
“It looked like a tin can, it was so crumpled up,” Hill said. “It was indescribable, it was not a car.”
Upon reaching the area where the crash happened, Nelson called out on the driver but they did not hear anything in response.
“Sir! Sir are you okay? Are you okay?” Nelson yelled. “And nothing.”
It was evident to them that the driver did not survive the accident, so Nelson dialed 911 for emergency help as Hill tried to pull the deceased from the car. Hill stated, “I’d want my family to get a body for a funeral,” hence his efforts to get the body out before the car busted into flames.
Their efforts to unbuckle the driver from his seat came to a halt when Hill noticed a baby in the backseat.
This came as a surprise for them since they had not seen the child all this time they were trying to get the deceased driver out of the car. The flames were around the baby’s head at that point, and they were growing wilder. The two now knew they had to act if they were to save that child’s life from the wild flames.
Hall jumped back over the father child’s father and struggled to wrench the restraint straps to flee the baby—to no avail.
“But that harness—I don’t know if it was melted or what,” Hill said. “But I grabbed it and I wasn’t going to stop until I got that baby out of there.”
Nelson remembers seeing Hill on the verge of freaking out, grabbing at the harness and pulling with all his might.
“There no way I was going to let the little baby die. There’s no way. I would not let her burn. I’d burn first, for sure,” Hill said.
Eventually, he was able to lift the baby out of the seat, but he sustained an injury on his arm while doing it. His arms were covered in burns but he didn’t care. The flames were a real problem now, and he yelled to Nelson to get the man out of the car.
The gas tank caught fire and exploded while Nelson was trying to get the driver out of the vehicle—in a moment, the entire back of the vehicle was engulfed in flames as they took a step back.
The two men were miraculously in the right place at the right time yet again.
The baby named Avalyn Dufek was cooing and crying a little by the time Hill got her out of the car. She had also been breathing smoke and had suffered several injuries. Luckily, the paramedics arrived in time to offer medical help to the young one before taking her to UF Health Jacksonville hospital for treatment. The medical team reported that the child was in critical condition and Avalyn’s aunt said that the child had suffered possible bleeding of the brain, several broken bones, and smoke inhalation.
In a report by the Florida Highway Patrol, a 31-year old Daniel Dufek lost control of his GMC Envoy and died in the crash. Dufek who is from Lake City was traveling at high speed before running off the road and tumbling over a tree trunk and later bursting into flames. Luckily, the car did not have a roof—making it easier to save Avalyn from burning.
The vehicle fire incident left Hill and Nelson shaken. In fact, Nelson termed it as “the scariest moment of my life.”
“The baby was so little, and the baby was still moving. It was like we had to do something and I’m just glad Steve was able to do it,” Nelson said.
Hill also stated that he would have done anything to save the baby’s life including going to the fire. They hadn’t seen the baby they saved after she was taken to the hospital either, but they wished the best for her.
“The gravity of it was just—wow,” Hill said. He knew he and Nelson were there for a reason, and they were meant to be to arrive when they were.
“Thank God we were there driving,” Nelson said.
It’s a hard decision to make to stop to check the cause of a dangerous fire, and an even more amazing one to see someone willing to sacrifice their life to save another. These two workers were ready to do all it takes to save Daniel Dufek’s body from burning and help his daughter out of the car. Acts of bravery and selflessness from such touching instances prove that there are hope and humanity to be found no matter the situation.