Steamboat Springs A Stagecoach man pulled a Steamboat Springs man from a burning car Wednesday morning and possibly saved his life.
Longtime Routt County resident Andre Elkins said he was driving to Steamboat from his home in Stagecoach to drop off his son at school when they noticed smoke coming from brush near the intersection of Colorado Highway 131 and U.S. Highway 40.
As they got closer, they saw it was a car accident. Elkins, manager of the Village at Steamboat, said he could see flames as he ran over to find out whether anyone needed help.
“The whole inside of the car was just filled with smoke,” Elkins said. “I probably breathed that smoke for 30 seconds, and I was about to pass out.”
Elkins said he could see someone in the driver's seat but was unable to open the car door on the first attempt. He said he yelled at the driver to help, but the window was rolled up and the driver would only say, “What?”
Elkins said he was able to open the door on the second attempt and struggled to remove the man’s seat belt. Elkins eventually was able to get the driver out and to the road.
“I think he truly did save his life,” Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jake Carlson said.
After pulling the driver from the car, Elkins said, three other men had stopped to help, but the fire was intensifying.
Steamboat Springs Police Department Sgt. John McCartin was the first officer to arrive at the scene, and soon after Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters arrived.
“That was one of the bigger fires I’ve seen in a car,” McCartin said.
Colorado State Patrol trooper Chris Lorio said the driver, 23-year-old Edward Jenny, of Steamboat, was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center and released. Lorio said early Wednesday afternoon that the crash still was being investigated but that it is suspected Jenny fell asleep while driving his Volvo station wagon. Lorio said Jenny was driving northbound on Colo. 131 when he drove off the west side of the road.
No passengers were in the car, and neither drugs nor alcohol are suspected of contributing to the crash.
Jenny could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com