Passing motorist credited with saving trapped driver from flames in Fawn crash
Watching flames engulf a Jeep's front end while a woman was trapped inside is a situation Bill Morio of Buffalo Township hopes he never experiences again.
“It was the most helpless feeling I've ever felt in my life,” Morio said.
Morio was driving home from work along Route 908 in Fawn about 3:30 p.m. when he came upon a two-vehicle wreck at the intersection with Lardintown Road.
“It wasn't just a fender bender,” Morio said. “The whole driver's side (of the Jeep) was crushed in.”
Morio saw the Jeep's driver, Linda Orris, 64, of West Deer, couldn't get out. The door was crushed and the steering wheel bent.
Emergency responders hadn't arrived, and Morio didn't see any bystanders near the Jeep.
“Nobody was doing anything,” Morio said.
Citing his 25 years in the Marine Corps, he added: “Your first thing is to respond.”
The air bags had deployed, and Orris had injured her ankle and wrist.
Morio spoke to her for a few minutes before he noticed flames under the hood.
“I've seen plenty of car fires — I know it only takes a few minutes before a car is engulfed,” said Morio, who has a background in trucking.
Trying not to alarm Orris, Morio yelled for other bystanders to get him a fire extinguisher.
He used one, but it wasn't enough to douse the flames.
Fawn police Officer Erik Bergstrom arrived and emptied a second extinguisher. The flames still weren't out.
Bergstrom said he used the empty extinguisher to break a rear window.
“At that point, we were going to pull her out,” Bergstrom said. “I'd rather have her have broken legs than a burnt body.”
But then someone handed Morio a third extinguisher, and that finished the job.
About that time, firefighters arrived, and they were able to free Orris from the wreckage.
Bergstrom said Orris was taken to UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh; her injuries included a compound fracture in one ankle.
The other driver, Christopher Wisor, 25, of Blairsville, was taken to Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison; Bergstrom said Wisor's employer at Porta-John Industries Inc. reported that he was treated for broken ribs and released.
Bergstrom did not expect charges to be filed in the crash.
He said no one witnessed the accident, but it appears Orris pulled from Lardintown Road in front of Wisor's Ford F-350 flatbed truck that was hauling two portable toilets.
Bergstrom noted the intersection, which is on a curve at the bottom of a hill, has vegetation that can make it difficult to see oncoming cars.
Bergstrom thanked Morio for his efforts.
“If it wasn't for that man right there, that lady would have burned,” he said. “She's a very lucky lady.”
Morio noted he just started a new job this week. He normally would have taken Route 28 home, but instead used a “back way” on Tuesday that put him on Route 908.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Morio said. “I absolutely believe God put me in the right place to help her.”
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.