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Bystander, Cop Pull Man From Car Fire Wreckage In McHenry

MCHENRY, Ill. (CBS) -- A bystander and police officer's actions possibly saved a young man's life Friday night after they pulled him out of the wreckage of a car fire in McHenry.

Ryan Hysell said he heard a loud crash last night around 9:45 p.m. near Route 120. Two cars collided, with one likely going well above the speed limit.

"I was still in the tow truck and I just seen flames," Hysell said.

The flames were coming from an upside down car. It ended up on its roof after first taking out a light post and nearly ripping its concrete base from the ground.

"The car was upside down … the flames were rising from the engine," Hysell said.

Hysell was afraid the car was going to blow up. So he got an extinguisher from a nearby Dunkin' Donuts and had the flames out in a matter of minutes.

Then his attention turned to the driver.

"Two people came across when I came back outside and said 'there's somebody in there, somebody's trapped in there,'" Hysell said.

That's when a McHenry police officer showed up and sprang into action by freeing the 20-year-old driver's foot.

"It was hard, his foot was actually caught, wedged in the dashboard. The officer had to reach all the way in and un-wedge his foot," Hysell said. "It was difficult to tell if he was actually alive."

But Hysell and the officer knew they had to give him a chance at life by extricating him from the wreckage.

"We basically took him all the way over there about 30 feet away from the accident," he recounted.

It was a delicate maneuver.

"He was breathing but it didn't seem like he was gonna make it from here to there as far as living," Hysell said.

The young man's injuries were so severe he was flown to an emergency room in Libertyville.

Hysell has seen a lot of wrecks in 25 years as a tow truck driver, but this was one of the worst.

"If he lived he's lucky and I hope he did, we don't know yet," Hysell said.

McHenry police have not said whether alcohol played a role in the crash.

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