Heroic measures save woman from burning car

DELRAN, N.J. - August 29, 2012

She was trapped in her car after an accident on Route 130 North and Fairview Avenue in Delran, New Jersey, and police and people passing by jumped in to rescue her.

A burned out car turned two cops, and EMT and two bystanders into heroes.

It was early Monday morning when Delran police responded to a 2-vehicle accident on Route 130 North.

Police dash-cam video showed three officers struggling to pull 25-year-old Ashante Norman from the wreckage.

"They were feeling with their hands, and they're reaching down and they can feel something holding her leg back, and they realize it was the seat belt," explained Sgt. Jeff Hubbs.

That's when Delran EMT James McKenzie runs up to the car. He pulled out a rescue knife that he has carried since the age of 14, and cuts the seatbelt, allowing the officers to pull the woman to safety.

Twelve seconds later, the entire car bursts into flames.

"You think back to the fact that you were 12 seconds from possibly being burned. You right in the car with the patient," McKenzie recalls.

The rescuers also had help from two women bystanders who sprayed the car with fire extinguishers while they struggled to free Norman from the car.

Police say this was one of those cases where seconds really did count. Were it not for the combined efforts of the rescuers, Ashante Norman might not have survived.

"The officers specifically told me that without the aid of the EMT and those civilians, they may not have been able to remove her from the vehicle in time before it fully erupted in flame," Sgt. Hubbs said.

Norman is being treated at Temple University Hospital and is in good condition thanks to the heroes who helped save her.

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