Good Samaritans being hailed after pulling man from burning truck on Thruway

A dramatic rescue on the New York State Thruway has likely saved the life of a soldier based at Hancock Field in Syracuse.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - A dramatic rescue on the New York State Thruway has likely saved the life of a soldier based at Hancock Field in Syracuse.

Investigators are still trying to figure out how Timothy Neild of the Albany area crashed his pickup truck Monday morning into a bridge pillar.

Well before any rescuers were able to arrive on scene, a group of good Samaritans pulled up on the scene of a pickup truck engulfed in flames.

"I said to Sherry, my god somebody must be in that truck, so we pulled right over in the median and we ran," said Kevin Harrigan.

"You react. You get out, you run and that's what we did. We got there and there was this poor young man trapped inside," Sherry Kline said.

Investigators say Timothy Neild, a member of the New York Army National Guard's 27th Infantry Brigade team, crashed his truck into the pillar holding up the 481 Bridge over the Thruway.

The crash crushed the front of his truck and caved in the driver side door. Harrigan and Kline say they thought there was nearly no chance to get him out. They struggled to open the door as the flames and smoke got more intense.

"By the time we were pulling on the door the flames were 10 feet over the truck and the blackest of smoke we had ever seen, because we were under the bridge, the smoke was trapped under the bridge and settled down on us," Harrigan explained.

"As they're pulling, I kind of reached in with my gloves. I had my gloves on. It was cold in the car still so I had my gloves still on. I used them to pat the back of his shoulder and his jacket where the flames we're starting to creep up," Kline said.

Eventually, the good Samaritans were able to crack the door open from the top, cut the seatbelt and get Neild out and away from the truck. Apparently just in the nick of time.

"It wasn't more than 30 seconds, a minute maybe and the thing blew up," Harrigan said.

Harrigan and Kline say the truck exploding was a concern, but that not getting Neild out was never an option.

State Police say the other good Samaritans who helped are former Onondaga County Legislator Tom Buckel, Raymond Presley of North Syracuse, John Tiranato of Castleton, New York and Christopher Sewell of Connecticut.

Neild is listed in serious condition at Upstate University Hospital with burns and broken bones.

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