Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Travelers Help Save 7 Lives in I-95 Wreck

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Travelers Help Save 7 Lives in I-95 Wreck

Article excerpt

Three Jacksonville buddies were passing through Lumberton, N.C.,

when their quiet trip home turned into a lifesaving adventure.

Jon Whitford, Jared Kirkman and Eric Davis, audio-visual

producers who had been in New Jersey on a business trip, helped

save seven people from a fiery two-car crash on Interstate 95 in

Lumberton on Sunday afternoon.

Five of the victims were from a Fort Lauderdale family, headed

home from a wedding in Virginia, police said. They included

three young sisters pulled from their burning car by Whitford,

who learned yesterday that the youngest girl, a 2-year-old, died

after being hospitalized.

Whitford said the death put a bittersweet stamp on the

lifesaving efforts.

"I feel bad for her and her family," Whitford said.

But witnesses said the men, and many others at the scene,

deserve credit for their heroics.

Police officials also praised the efforts of the three men.

"They did a fantastic job," said Sgt. W.H. Thompson of the

North Carolina Highway Patrol. "Without their help, we don't

know what the consequences would have been. They were definitely

heroes."

The accident occurred when a northbound car crossed the median

for an unknown reason and smashed head-on into a car that was

hauling a boat. The northbound vehicle flipped onto its roof,

trapping two women inside. The other car crashed into a

water-filled ditched, trapping three girls and their parents.

The three Jacksonville men were among the first to stop their

vehicles and aid the victims. Kirkman, 23, of the Westside, and

Davis, 22, of Baymeadows, helped free the women from the

northbound car.

Whitford, meanwhile, had gone to the other vehicle where he

found the girls and their parents trapped. The car was in about

2 feet of water.

"There was some smoke and small flames coming from under the

hood," said Whitford, 25, of the Westside. …

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