Pay It Forward: Phoenix man goes into burning van, saves a life
The van started smoking on Shea Boulevard near Fountain Hills.
By the time James Parker got the driver's attention to pull over, he thought it was too late.
"I got within about 20 feet and the engine just blew up and fire shot out the back of the hood all the way over the windshield," said Parker.
Margaret Wilson was inside the van with her co-worker and three mentally handicapped adults.
"Two of our guys got out with no problem. Our third guy who was in the very back of the van just sat there and looked at us," said Wilson.
She desperately tried to urge the third man out of the van, but he wouldn't budge.
Wilson was worried what might happen if she got physical.
"He probably would have slowed everything down even more. We probably would have all still been in the van when the fire took over," said Wilson.
Right about this time, Parker had run up on the van - and not a second too soon.
The fire was now creeping toward the back seat.
Parker gets emotional when he gets to this part of the story.
"I don't know what it was but I couldn't leave that guy back there, I couldn't. I jumped in that car and turned him to the side where I could get my arms underneath his arms and I pulled him over the seat and over the seatbelt and when I fell out of the van I pulled him on top of me," said Parker.
Wilson said if it hadn't been for Parker, she thinks the man in the backseat would have died.
"Maybe me and my co-worker as well because we would have been trying to get him out. He (Parker) may have saved three lives," she said.
Wilson emailed CBS 5 and nominated Parker for our "Pay It Forward" segment.
She surprised him with the $500 reward at his Phoenix home.
Wilson said if he hadn't stopped to help and later found out that someone had died inside that van, he couldn't have looked himself in the mirror.
Now he can look, and see a brave man staring right back.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:08 AM EDT2013-05-21 04:08:51 GMT
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