Other NJ News

Garden State Man Pulls Two from Burning Car in Route 80 Accident

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
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

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, 55, 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

SOMA

Could Former Schools Chief Be Involved in Picking His Replacement?

Could former South Orange Maplewood Schools Superintendent John Ramos, who resigned last summer after just two tumultuous years, have a hand in choosing his replacement?

It’s possible since Ramos works for one of the search firms that initially submitted proposals for the contract to conduct the search, Hazard Young Attea Associates (HYA) of Schaumburg, IL.

HYA, along with Ray and ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

South Orange Police Blotter: Robbery Reported on South Orange Avenue

June 16, 2018

South Orange Police Blotter as of June 16

Robbery - An Alpha, NJ resident reported that he was robbed on Sunday, June 3, at approximately 12:30 a.m. while he was walking on South Orange Avenue near Scotland Road. The victim stated that he was approached by three unknown actors who punched him and knocked him to the ground. The actors then stole his cell phone and wallet ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Home Burglaries Reported

June 4, 2018, Burglary; Sometime during the daytime hours, a home on the 100 block of Midland Blvd was forcibly entered.  At the time of the report it was unknown what the proceeds were.

June 4, 2018; Thefts; During the overnight hours a metal rack was stolen from outside of a business on the 200 block of Elmwood Ave.

June 5, 2018; Motor Vehicle Theft; During the overnight hours, a van ...

Fifth Annual Two Towns Triathlon for Kids Postponed Until September Due to South Orange Pool Still Being Closed

June 14, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The 5th Annual Two Towns Triathlon for Kids, originally scheduled to be held in South Orange on Saturday, June 16, has been postponed until Saturday, September 8, according to an update on the South Orange website. 

 

The postponement is because the South Orange Community Pool is still closed for the season due to construction delays with the filter ...

Second Year of Maplewood South Orange Book Festival Brings Authors and Readers Together

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Anna Quindlen. Rosemary Wells. Keith Hernandez. Tayari Jones. These are just a few of the authors who were speakers at the Second Annual Maplewood South Orange Book Festival on Saturday.

The book festival, which attracted about 2,000 attendees according to organizers, had a full day of author panels covering a wide range of topics that included "#MeToo: From ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_ec80b979e3fb86b0f869_asm_spring2_2018_cover-small

Mon, June 18, 7:00 PM

Montclair Public Library, Montclair

Trump’s Trade War & Impact of the New Tariff Plan

Tue, June 19, 6:30 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Memoir Writing Class at Millburn Library

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, June 19, 7:00 PM

Clifton Public Library, Clifton

Bariatric Seminar-Weight Loss That Works

Health & Wellness

Lecia Bianca Jewels Creates a Bridge to Make Bloomfield Center the Next Style Destination

June 16, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The Bloomfield Center renaissance continues as Lecia Bianca Jewels becomes a style destination on main thoroughfare in this Essex County Community. Lecia Clay, owner of the boutique, describes her jewelry as 'bridge jewelry,' - pieces that are in a space between costume jewelry and fine jewelry, while having value. 

'Lecia Bianca' is the ...

Record Number Attends West Essex YMCA's Sixth Annual Bike Livingston

LIVINGSTON, NJ — On the heels of National Bike Safety Month in May, a new record of nearly 500 Livingston riders participated in the sixth annual Bike Livingston event, a family-oriented bike tour of Livingston’s neighborhoods hosted each year by the West Essex YMCA on the first Sunday in June.

With three routes to choose from—a four-mile route around the ...

Applications to Rutgers Jumps Nearly 10 Percent; Increase From Out-of-State Students

June 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Applications to Rutgers University this year increased 9.4 percent over last year, university President Robert Barchi told the Board of Governors at a meeting this week.

The university received nearly 45,000 applications this year, Barchi said.

That included a 20 percent increase in the number of students from outside New Jersey applying to Rutgers, the university ...

Students Lead ‘Die-In’ at Congressman Lance’s Office; Summit Boy Arrested

WESTFIELD, NJ — Seventeen-year-old Summit High School student Ben Schachter was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday during a gun safety “die-in” protest led by local high school students at Congressman Leonard Lance's Westfield office. Lance was not present at the office at the time.

“We are organizing this ‘die-in’ at Congressman Lance’s ...

Columbia High School Cougar Marching Band Looking for New Members

June 17, 2018

Calling All Columbia High School and Middle School Musicians!

It’s time to register for the CHS Cougar Marching Band! All CHS students (and rising 8th graders with a commitment and focus to band -- speak to your middle school band teacher if interested!) are invited to join the marching band! Don’t play an instrument but want to participate? We’re ...

First Time Ever July 3rd Circus Performances and Zipline!

First Time Ever July 3rd Circus Performances and Zipline!

Come to the Circus July 3rd or July 4th

There are 5 performances to choose from: Tuesday, July 3rd, at 4:30 pm & 7 pm; Wednesday, July 4th, at 1 pm, 3:30 pm & 6 pm.— Wristband Sales Online

The Zerbini Family Circus will perform rain or shine under the Big Top in Memorial Park's north athletic field. Go ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace - June 15 to June 21

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:          

Chairman’s Reserve Baby Back Pork Ribs $3.99lb (Meat)
Tuna Steak $19.99lb (Ashley Fish Market)
Mango Ataulfo 5/$5
Breyer’s Ice Cream  $4.99
Stubb’s BBQ Sauce $3.99
Ham Wraps $5.99 (Deli)
Egg Salad ...