WASHINGTON — It was a horrifying scene when a pickup truck caught fire and crashed into a church van on Chillum Road in Hyattsville, Maryland, Sunday evening.
While four people died and 14 were injured, a D.C. man, his wife and other witnesses jumped in to help.
“We were going down the hill and I had seen the van — I was seeing the passenger side of the van and seen fire. A lot of fire,” Michael Tymas told NBC Washington. “I had seen a lot of people in trouble and my instincts told me to get out and help.”
Among those still in the van was a baby.
Tymas recalls thinking, “‘I gotta get this baby out.’ I actually thought that the van was going to explode.”
Tymas got the baby out and handed her to his wife, who is seen on cellphone video obtained by NBC Washington trying to calm her down. The woman was also on the phone with 911.
“I’m holding the baby. It’s cute. Her face is burned,” Tymas’ wife told the dispatcher while trying to calm the infant down. “Oh baby; it’s going to be OK.”
Tymas and the other witnesses tried to help the others still in the van.
“The seat belts jammed,” Tymas explained to NBC 4. “We were passing my pocketknife around to each other cutting these seat belts trying to save as many as we could.”
Unfortunately, many were already dead when they had gotten to the van. He wishes he could have saved everyone.
“If you see someone in trouble, if you can assist, help,” Tymas says.