Oklmulgee County officials are praising the acts of two men who rescued a driver from his wrecked, burning car earlier this month.
The crash took place on July 5 about 10:30 a.m. on Oklahoma 16 between county roads 320 and 330.
Benjamin Franklin Lane, of Depew, who witnessed the wreck, and an unknown man, forced the car's door open to find the driver's feet on fire. Lane told authorities he and the other man dragged the driver out of the vehicle and away from the burning wreckage.
Last Thursday, Lane was headed east on Highway 16 when the unthinkable happened.
"I saw the vehicle in front of me veer off the highway, and then all the sudden, it was going over and over and then busted into flames," Lane said.
Without a second thought, Lane rushed to the burning car to pull out the driver.
"I just knew I had to get him out," Lane said. "The seats were on fire, the interior was on fire and everything."
It was a courageous move that came naturally to Lane, who spent 20 years as fire chief in Depew.
"I was just doing what I had to do, ya know?" Lane said. "I was just—I was afraid that there was a lot more people in it. I'm just glad it was just one gentleman in there."
According to the Okmulgee County Sheriff's office, the grass near the car also caught fire, and the two men had to move the driver even further away.
The driver, a complete stranger to Lane, is a well-known name in Green Country.
James Hodge owns a number of car dealerships in the area.
When emergency crews arrived, Lane said the other man quickly left the scene. The only description he could give is that the man was possibly American Indian.
"I don't know where he went, didn't get his name or nothing," Lane said. "I'm just glad a young man showed up, help a 73-year-old man get somebody out of a car."
Lane said the mystery man basically swooped in to help him pull Hodge from the burning car, and then just disappeared.
In a news release, the sheriff's office and the Twin Hills Fire Department said the men were heroic and their "gracious act of selflessness" was to be commended.
If not for the heroic actions of witnesses, "the life of the man in the wrecked vehicle would have surely been lost," the statement said.