MANCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) — A middle-school teacher is being called a hero after she saved a handicapped man from a burning van.
A man identified only as John by fire officials was driving down Main Street in Manchester, Connecticut, when he smelled smoke and noticed fire coming from his dash, according to Manchester Fire Rescue EMS. He stopped his vehicle on the Interstate 384 ramp, where the car burst into flames.
The fuel tank ruptured, and flames quickly began to overtake the vehicle. John, who uses a wheelchair, was not able to get out.
“Heather Sica Leonard is a middle school teacher at Illing Middle School in Manchester, who happened to be driving down the ramp at the same time, and saw the car on fire,” Manchester Fire Rescue EMS posted on Facebook. “She immediately stopped, approached the burning vehicle and selflessly got John and his wheelchair out of the car and moved him to safety, all at great personal risk to injury.”
“Her actions averted an almost certain fatal outcome and prevented anyone from being injured,” the post read. “Well done Heather!”
The fire department posted a picture of the fire, of the charred remains of the van, and of Leonard and John posing together.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responded to the scene to coordinate cleanup after fuel spilled into a nearby storm drain.