Truck Driver Honored After Saving Two Motorists From “Burning Alive”
Colorado Springs, Colorado – Truck driver Richard Krochta was honored yesterday by the Colorado State Patrol for risking his life to rescue two motorists from a burning car.
On August 29 just before 4 a.m. Scott Smith and a friend were traveling along Highway 24, two miles west of Woodland Park, when Smith fell asleep at the wheel sending the van off the road striking a tree. The van then caught fire quickly. Krochta was driving by the wreck on his way to work, but immediately sprung into action to help.
Krochta says he heard people screaming as he rushed to the burning car. “I saw the car light up on fire, so I just jumped out of my truck, grabbed my fire extinguisher, and called 911 at the same time,” Krochta told KOAA.com. “As I’m putting the fire out, I can hear somebody yelling, ‘Help me! Help me!””
“I couldn’t get in the driver’s door because of all the tree limbs, so I ran around the other side and that side was also blocked by a tree,” Krochta said. The door was only able to open wide enough for the driver to stick his head out for fresh air as the cabin began to fill with smoke. Krochta, a firefighter for nearly 30 years in Pennsylvania, had to “muscle the driver door open,” according to State Patrol, in an attempt to free the man inside.
Krochta pulled Smith out the passenger side, but Smith was concerned about a female passenger and began yelling to Krochta, “She’s in there! She’s in there!” “I went back in the vehicle and I could see her. She was underneath the dashboard and laying on the seat. I just looked to see if she that she wasn’t trapped, so I just grabbed her and yanked he through and took her away from the vehicle,” Krochta said. He says the opening he had to pull them through was only about a foot-and-a-half wide.
“If he hadn’t acted, it would’ve been different,” said Corporal Ryan Novotny with the Colorado State Patrol. “He stepped up to the plate and he took care of these two people very, very well.”
Krochta said time was of the essence because had some one not acted quickly, “they probably would have burned to death, alive.” Despite his heroics, Krochta says he only did what anyone else in his position would have done. “I just did what I had to do,” he said.
Smith tells KOAA.com, “Richard was standing there and he pulled us both from the flaming wreckage and made sure we survived. We’re both forever indebted to him.”
Krochta was honored for his actions with the Colorado State Patrol’s Certificate of Honor. The honor is given to people or organizations who demonstrate an exceptional degree of judgment, initiative or competence.
Well done trucker! We salute you and the many other truckers who risk their safety every day.
Watch the original report from KOAA 5 below courtesy of KOAA 5/YouTube.