19-Year-Old Pulls Woman from Burning Car

Date: October 17, 2009
Location: Highway 22 & Joseph Street SE, Salem, Oregon
Names: Destiny Edwards, Nickolas Edwards

A 19-year-old Oregon man saved a woman’s life on October 17, 2009, when he saw her trapped inside a burning car on Highway 22 and Joseph Street SE in Salem, Oregon, and pried the car’s windshield off with his bare hands, just before the car exploded.

Nickolas Edwards, 19, of Salem, spotted Destiny Edwards, 21, of Mill City, inside her burning 2005 Honda Civic as he drove along the highway. The two are not related.

When Edwards saw the car in the ditch at Joseph Street SE, his first thought was that it was abandoned, and he took out his cell phone to call the police. But, as he told KGW.com, he just had to check: “I had to make sure nobody was in the car, that’s horrible, I wouldn’t want to be left there burning.”

When the trapped woman saw Edwards, she started screaming. Edwards managed to kick a hole in the glass, then started tearing at it with his bare hands, receiving severe lacerations in the process. As he struggled to free the woman, the fire was intensifying. Edwards pulled the woman from the car just before it exploded. “It went up in flames, boom, boom, boom,” he said.

Police are calling Edwards a hero. “This kid saved her life,” Marion County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Sheila Lorance said. But Edwards said he just did the right thing, and, although it was a terrifying experience that he never wants to go through again, he knew he could never live with himself if he hadn’t stopped.

Destiny Edwards was treated for lacerations and released from Salem Hospital, where she was cited for drunk driving.

We are inspired by Nick Edwards’ bravery and his willingness to act in a dangerous situation. Edwards could have passed by the burning car, but instead he felt compelled to check if anyone was inside. In a society where people are sometimes too busy or distracted to get involved, Edwards is a true hero. We applaud this young man’s conscience and courage.