Before people arrive at work in the morning, they might stop to grab a cup of coffee or run a few errands. Delaware Electric Cooperative’s Sheron Sturgis saved a life.
Just prior to heading out to work at the Greenwood-based co-op, the lineworker rescued an unconscious driver from the burning remains of a car involved in a tractor-trailer collision, minutes before the vehicle was engulfed in flames. He broke the car’s windows with a spent fire extinguisher and, with help from a bystander, freed the driver.
“I’m really glad we were able to get him out,” said Sturgis of the Oct. 14 incident. “We were in the right place at the right time, and we did what we had to do to help the driver out.”
The accident happened on a busy intersection close enough to Sturgis’s home in Georgetown that he could hear squealing tires and the collision’s impact.
“I looked from my sliding glass door and could see light smoke coming from the car,” recalled Sturgis, who made his way straight to the scene.
Thick smoke and flames were billowing out of the car, Sturgis said, and a small group of bystanders was using fire extinguishers to prevent the fire from spreading. The group had tried to free the victim, but the car’s doors were jammed. Attempts to break the windows were unsuccessful.
Sturgis tried not to think the worst. “My only thoughts were ‘the doors haven’t opened so someone’s still in there. God, we’re not going to watch a person burn in front of us today.’”
By this time, Sturgis said, flames were close to the car’s windshield. That’s when he broke the car’s windows with the fire extinguisher and freed the driver, who had regained consciousness.
“I grabbed him under the arms and someone else grabbed his ankles, and then we placed him on a nearby lawn. About 30 seconds later, the car burst into flames,” said Sturgis.
The driver survived and Sturgis had a few small cuts, according to Jeremy Tucker, a co-op spokesman.
A few minutes later, firefighters and paramedics arrived, and Sturgis headed to work. Bill Andrew, DEC’s president and CEO, is proud of his employee’s bravery.
“I tell people all the time that DEC has the best employees. They care about each other and the communities they serve. He’s an exceptional employee, and a man is alive today because of Sheron’s selfless actions.”
Sturgis, who’s worked at DEC for 14 years, is humble. He declined an offer by the Georgetown Fire Co.’s chief to publicize the incident.
“I’m not all about that. I just pray the gentleman is OK,” he said. “You know, it could be anyone of us, or our families, so you act. It was a team of selfless human beings acting to save another life. It was an awesome experience to be part of.”
Victoria A. Rocha is a staff writer at NRECA