Other NJ News

Westfield Man Pulls Two from Burning Car in Route 80 Accident

1521af9759c6a813cc7a_2dc0c6d291cfd534b755_image2__2_.JPG
Duncan Smythe of Westfield pulled the driver and a passenger from a vehicle that veered across Route 80, hit a car on the shoulder and burst into flames. Credits: Duncan Smythe
62cb815d67f6b866ded2_image1.PNG
Smythe's friend, Rudy Palma, captured this image of the fiery crash that occurred on July 4. Credits: Rudy Palma
1521af9759c6a813cc7a_2dc0c6d291cfd534b755_image2__2_.JPG

ROCKAWAY, NJ – When Duncan Smythe of Westfield left for a Fourth of July gathering at a friend’s home in Sussex County, he didn’t expect to pull two people from a fiery car after a crash on Route 80.

Smythe, 65, was driving west on Route 80 along with friend Rudy Palma when he saw a car veer across the road and strike a Toyota on the shoulder with what he described as “a lot of force.”

The driver of the vehicle on the shoulder, Michael O’Brien, 49, was outside of his car adjusting his bicycle when he was struck by Mary Potts, 72, and killed instantly, according to police. A rear passenger in his car, Mary Briggs, 69, was critically injured and taken to Morristown Medical Center, Trooper Lawrence Peele of the NJ State Police said.

Sign Up for E-News

“The two cars both left the ground, spun around, hit the guard rail and one car burst into flame immediately,” Smythe said. “I pulled over. The car I approached had smoke coming out from the hood, but fortunately the door was not locked.”

Smythe pulled Potts, who he described as disoriented, and her passenger out from the car. The passenger, who was at least 6-feet tall, was wedged under the dashboard, Smythe said.

“The car was fully engulfed in 90 seconds,” Smythe said. “It was a hell of a blaze.”

Smythe, who works a realtor, graduated from Westfield High School in 1970. He worked as a police officer in Bridgewater during the late 1970s and 1980’s and served as an EMT on the Westfield Rescue Squad for 25 years. That training kicked in as he approached the smoking car with focus and determination to act quickly, he said.

“All I was thinking was, ‘I have to get them out,’” he said. “I think because of experience I was just focused. People watch TV and think that cars explode, but they don’t. Gasoline doesn’t explode, it burns. People kept telling me that it was going to blow, but I knew it wasn’t going to.”

A few days later, Smythe said he’s reflecting on the adrenaline that kicked in when he saw the accident.

“Adrenaline is a wonderful thing,” Smythe said. “It didn’t occur to me that the man in the passenger seat outweighed me by at least 50 pounds and I picked him up like a feather. What they say about adrenaline is true.”

Despite his actions after the crash, Smythe prefers that well-wishers refrain from calling him a hero.

“Please don’t use the word hero,” he said. “I don’t like that. I was just lucky and happy that I was in the right place at the right time. I don’t really feel it was heroic. Guys losing their legs in Iraq are heroic.”

At this time, the crash remains under investigation, Peele said. He could not comment on Smythe’s actions at the scene.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Piscataway

Edison Public Library Donation Drive for Edison Animal Shelter

June 6, 2018

The Edison Township Free Public Library is partnering with the Edison Animal Shelter to do a donation drive for the Edison Animal Shelter. There is a checklist of all items that are being accepted at the animal shelter. These checklists can be found above and the donation bins will be available at all three branches. We will be collecting items until the end of June. For more ...

9-story apartment complex with roof-top pool formally opens in New Brunswick

June 20, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The city's latest luxury apartment building recently held a formal opening for the complex on Neilson Street that has a roof-top pool with cabanas and grills, a dog park and pet spa.

The Quincy, a 393-unit, nine story building opened last month, offering studio and one- and two-bedroom apartment ranging in size from 503 to 1,236 square feet.

Mayor James Cahill said ...

Obituaries

Toms River – Mary Stella Whiteman, 97, passed away peacefully Saturday May 19, 2018 in Rose ...
Read more
Piscataway – Reinhard Rudolf Kiefer, 85, died Sunday March 11, 2018 at home. Born in ...
Read more

The ESCNJ Offers Innovative Software To Strengthen School Transportation

June 20, 2018

New software promising greater speed and efficiency for school transportation departments is now available through the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey (ESCNJ).

The software is the result of a two year collaboration between the Princeton based Artha Systems, an international supplier of business management software, and the ESCNJ.

“The software is unlike anything on the ...

Registration Open For Fourth Annual Softball & Baseball Summer Camp

SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Registration is open for the Spotswood Youth Baseball and Softball League's fourth annual summer camp. The camp is for ages five through 15 and will be held every Wednesday in August from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. beginning August 1. In the event of rain on either August 1, August 8, August 15, August 22 or August 29, a makeup camp will be held on the following Friday.

Camp will ...

Rutgers-Camden students who saved man from fire honored by City of Camden

Camden, NJ—The Rutgers-Camden students who saved an elderly man from a March fire at his Cooper Street home were honored by the City of Camden Tuesday night.

Mayor Frank Moran awarded proclamations to Corey Zytko, Jonathan Perez-Gaytan, Matteo Resanovic, Vanessa Solis Palma, Sehwan Park and Tammy Meneses on Tuesday, June 12.

On the night of March 23, the students were hanging out in ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_8f0a915f696bb2ae1366_community_shred

Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Quibbletown Park, Piscataway

Piscataway Township Paper Shredding Event

Government Green

Wed, June 27, 7:00 PM

Piscataway Public Library, Piscataway

Empowerment for the Job Search: Applications & ...

Business & Finance

Thu, July 5, 7:00 PM

Piscataway Public Library, Piscataway

Trivia Night at the Library!

Arts & Entertainment

Westfield High School Sophomore Dies; Counselors on Hand at School

June 19, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Carthoris “Carter” Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High School, died Sunday night, according to Westfield Public Schools and a letter sent to parents by Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson.

“Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community over the death of Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High ...

A Date with Destiny

Leslie. . . it would be the bomb . . .  if we could go to prom . . . together.

 

For the record, Leslie is my wife, and this is my openly public attempt at a promposal.  

 

My twin high school seniors taught me about promposals, those cute, showy, and sometimes over-the-top ways of asking someone special to prom.  This year they have been on both the ...