Crash rescue hero ignored safety advice to drag woman from burning car

MBTC Kevin Turney
MBTC Kevin Turney

A brave man ignored a 999 operator’s instructions and risked his life to drag an unconscious women from her burning car – seconds before it exploded into a fireball.

The operator warned him and two girls who had raised the alarm to stay well away for their own safety and wait for the emergency services to reach the scene.

But 57-year-old Keith Turney feared the woman who was slumped over the steering wheel would be killed unless he intervened.

So he calmly walked up to the blazing Audi TT, wrenched open the driver’s door, unfastened the seatbelt and lifted the woman, in her 30s, to safety. Then he went back again to check nobody else was still trapped inside.

Retired Keith said: “If I had done as they said then she would have died for sure.”

The drama happened after the car crashed into the fence of his home in Millbrook, near Ampthill.

He said: “Two girls arrived at the scene first and called 999 after trying unsuccessfully to open the car door.

“They were told to keep everyone away from the car until the emergency services arrived, which under the circumstances would seem the correct advice.

“But I chose not to listen, because the fire was clearly getting out of control, with the driver slumped unconscious. The flames were above my head and were lighting her up as if she were sitting in front of a camp fire. I realised if I didn’t do something fast the unthinkable would happen. I was able to get the door open and get her clear. As she was unconscious she was a dead weight and very hard to move.

“Having got her to a safe distance I went back to the car to check for any other occupants. By this time the fire was spreading through the car interior.

“I retreated and we moved the girl further away as suddenly the car was completely engulfed in flames.

“Paramedics followed by police and other services arrived a while afterwards.

“The woman would certainly have died had I not intervened – the police and fire crews acknowledged that and were very kind to me.”

The woman car driver was taken to Bedford Hospital.