‘Grateful’: Good Samaritan pulls driver from fiery crash

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CLAYBANKS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — After a car smashed into a tree and burst into flames near Rothbury, a complete stranger jumped in to save the driver’s life.

Matthew Beebe said he was driving home Monday evening when he saw smoke and stopped. He said it’s a decision that saved two lives.

It had started as a bad day. He headed out to Silver Lake, searching for his son who he lost contact with years ago. Having no luck, he started driving home to Holland. That’s when he saw the smoke.

“I knew I had to turn around,” Beebe said. “I was compelled to, something within my heart.”

The Oceana County Sheriff’s Office says the wreck on South Scenic Drive near Webster Road in Claybanks Township happened around 7 p.m. when the driver swerved to miss a deer. Jeremiah McDonald, 39, of Montague was stuck inside the crashed car.

“I heard a man screaming for help, (saying), ‘I can’t move,'” Beebe said.

He ran toward the voice. The smoke and flames made it hard to see.  

“Flames were coming out from the engine, flames were underneath the vehicle,” he described.

Beebe said McDonald was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, but Beebe knew there was no time to wait. He said he reached in and pulled McDonald out through the window.

“He was in so much pain but I had no choice but to move him,” Beebe said. “So at that time I would drag him 3 feet and then I would rest, then I would drag him 3 more feet.”

He got him away from the car before the gas tank exploded. Beebe said flames reached 4 to 6 feet above the vehicle.

“He (McDonald) was like, ‘You saved my life, you saved my life,’ and I was just grateful to be given the opportunity,” Beebe said.

Beebe, who has a criminal history, is now being recognized as a hero by the sheriff’s office. He admitted he has made bad decisions in the past, but this time he made the right one — something he credits to a higher power.

“(God) just put in a position to give my life purpose and that’s what I was able to do by saving a man’s life,” Beebe said.

McDonald was taken to the hospital with serious injuries to both of his legs. The sheriff’s department says he underwent surgery Tuesday. It’s unclear if he will walk again.

Beebe hopes they can eventually reconnect.

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