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Caught on Tape: Heroes Save Family from Exploding Car

VIDEO COURTESY OF WDJT CBS-58 MILWAUKEE

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS/AP) Angela Baldessari's SUV was on its side and engulfed in flames. She and her two children were trapped inside, being burned by the encroaching flames.

It sounds like a scene from a movie, but this scenario occurred in real life on a Milwaukee street this weekend. Baldessari, of Kingsport, Tenn., was driving Sunday when her SUV hit a tree and burst into flames.

But civilians and off-duty rescue workers, who saw the car in flames, rushed in for a daring rescue.

James "Chris" Harper is the father of the 4-year-old boy who was trapped for the longest in the car. He said Tuesday that words can't express his gratitude to off-duty firefighters Joel and John Rechlitz and others.

The men, with help from bystanders, pulled the mother and her 2-year-old girl from the car before cutting 4-year-old D.J. Harper free from his car-seat.

The Rechlitz brothers suffered burns on their hands and forearms.

Pediatric surgeon David Gourlay says the 4-year-old is in serious but stable condition with burns over 20 percent of his body. He says many of the burns are deep and are on the scalp, face and upper body.

Harper said of his son's rescuers, his son was surrounded by angels.

  • Mike Ballou

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