Pike County man, deemed ‘local hero,’ rescues neighbor from burning car

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Published: May. 5, 2022 at 8:08 PM EDT
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ELKHORN CITY, Ky. (WYMT) - A car fire Tuesday has stories spreading about a local hero in Pike County.

When a loud explosion and revving engine caught the attention of Justin Quesenberry, he walked out of his home to see a car, nearing the edge of a hillside on Russell Street, engulfed in flames.

“I heard an engine revving up, wide open, and then it went ‘boom’ when I heard a big explosion,” said Quesenberry.

As neighbors gathered around, they called for help, waiting for assistance but sure that whoever was in the vehicle was dead, since they were unable to see through the wall of smoke or get close to the heat.

“The windows were up for so long, I just knew whoever was in there had suffocated,” said Quesenberry.

Once the windows were busted, however, a tunnel of air made its way through the front seat, showing the driver to be alive.

“I seen a human moving. I mean it was just like a weight lifted off of my shoulders, that I knew there was somebody to save,” said Quesenberry.

Without hesitation, he fought through the fire, pulling the man out of the passenger side window of the car and onto the ground nearby.

“And I said, ‘Hurry, come to me.’ I said, ‘you’re on fire! Get out of the car.’ And he didn’t have any energy and he just fell down in the passenger seat,” he said. “So I reached over inside, under his arms, and I pulled him up out of the car.”

Moments later, with the driver safely out, the flames grew brighter and the smoke darker before the fire department got to the scene and extinguished the situation.

“You can’t think. You have to act. Because every moment that you’re stuttering and thinking- and if you get scared and let fear take you over- every bit of those seconds is taken away from that person’s life,” said Quesenberry.

From there, Quesenberry’s quick action was shared on Facebook, with the Elkhorn City Police Department recognizing his selflessness.

Mayor Mike Taylor said the display of compassion, without regard for his own safety, shows the true care Quesenberry has for the people in his community.

“It was amazing,” said Taylor. “He put his own life in danger too.”

However, Quesenberry said he only did what anyone would have and he feels blessed to have been in the right place at the right time.

“It was a miracle of God that he made it, for sure,” he said.

The driver of the car was taken to the hospital, but officials say he is now recovering from home- something they say would not be possible if not for their Russell Street rescuer.

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