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Phuket hero pulls motorist from burning Volvo

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KOH KAEW, PHUKET: A courageous 62-year-old man saved a driver’s life by pulling him from a burning car following a crash in Koh Kaew before dawn this morning.

Armard ‘Mard’ Pattanee rushed to the crumpled Volvo after hearing a loud bang. He cut driver Banjong Laocharoen’s seatbelt and helped him to safety – shortly before the car became completely engulfed in flames.

The accident happened at around 4am, when Mr Banjong ran into an 18-wheeler on Thepkrasattri Road northbound, close to the U-turn near Ban Koh Kaew Mosque.

Mr Mard, who lives nearby, was about to go to bed when he heard the impact.

“When I went to see what happened I saw the Volvo starting to burn with a person inside,” he said. “I thought he was going to die as he was unconscious and probably in shock.”

Fearing an explosion from a gas cylinder inside the vehicle, bystanders tried to stop Mr Mard from approaching the car – but Mr Mard felt he had to act.

“I needed to help him as a fellow human being,” he said.

Wrenching open the car door, he cut through Mr Banjong’s belt with a knife and roused him before helping him out of the car.

Two minutes later, the car erupted in flames “as tall as my house,” said Mr Mard.

Within 10 minutes fire trucks arrived and extinguished the fire with water and chemicals.

Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers rushed Mr Banjong, who had sustained a chest injury, to Thalang Hospital.

While fire officers struggled to put the fire out, Phuket City Police and Rassada Municipality Disaster Prevention and Mitigation officers kept a crowd away from the scene for fear of an explosion.

The northbound lane of Thepkrasattri Road was closed, causing a traffic jam that lasted more than an hour.

Phuket City Police Duty Officer Chukiat Chaiwiset said the 18-wheeler had changed lanes and the slippery road surface prevented Mr Banjong from braking in time.

The truck driver fled the scene.

Police are investigating what caused the car to burst into flames.

Although Volvos are renowned for their safety, the accident is the second this month in which a Volvo has burst into flames following a collision in Phuket.

 

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