SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — Police are still investigating what caused a serious crash Wednesday on Route 295 in Smithfield.
According to police, bystanders helped save the victim, who was trapped inside her car. Investigators said Debra White, 61, of North Providence, was in the breakdown lane in her SUV when she suddenly veered left and cut across several lanes of traffic.
According to police, White’s SUV struck a GMC pickup truck before it crossed into the median, flipped over, and caught fire. The driver of the truck was not harmed, police said.
Officials said the flames from White’s vehicle quickly spread into the surrounding brush and trees.
She was briefly trapped in her car, according to police, and was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
Good Samaritans nearby were able to get White out safely and she was taken to Rhode Island Hospital.
Scott Cox, a commercial driver, pulled over as soon as he saw the fire.
“The car was on its roof and the undercarriage of the car was actually on fire,” he said. “My training took over from what I was taught in the service.”
Cox said he is a 10-year Army veteran – and that he had a fire extinguisher ready.
“It slowed down the process where we could get her out of the car because if she had been in there 30 more seconds, it would be a different story today,” he said.
Two brothers were also at the scene and assisted Cox in removing White from the car. He says they grabbed her by the arm and pulled her out – but that she was burned pretty badly on the upper and lower parts of her back.
On Thursday, White was reported to be in stable condition.The accident is currently under investigation.
“I’m just a normal guy who was in the right place at the right time,” Cox said. “And hopefully someone will do it for me if it ever happens to me.”