Homeless man hailed as a hero after helping crash victims to safety

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Data pix.

EMPORIA, Kan. -- Brian Vargas said he had no time to think after a fiery crash thrust him into a life-saving mission.

"It was really scary at times because there were elderly and disabled people on the bus and saving them were my main concern," Vargas said.

Five days a week, the 49-year-old Vargas rides the L-Cat or Lyon County Area Transportation bus from the Emporia Rescue Mission to the shelter's kitchen where he's a cook.

"It just happened all of a sudden. I just heard a big 'boom!' And the bus actually moved," Vargas said, who was getting off the bus when he said a minivan crashed into the back near the men's shelter at 12th Avenue and Whittier Street.

Vargas darted off the bus, and when he saw the flames spreading across the van's hood, the former carpenter and construction worker ran to get five passengers and the driver off the bus.

"I ran back on the bus and just screamed, 'Everybody off the bus now!'" Vargas told FOX 4's Robert Townsend Wednesday.

When he ran back on the bus, Brian quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and, all by himself, he put out the van fire. Vargas and several onlookers feared the van would explode, but thankfully it didn't by the time firefighters arrived.

Two people on the bus went to the hospital for minor injuries. We're told the van's driver refused treatment. In the aftermath, Vargas was humble.

"I'm just an ordinary guy," said Brian with a big smile.

However, Lee Alderman, the Director of the Emporia Rescue Mission insists the humble homeless guy, turned good Samaritan, is without a doubt a true "hero."

"He put out the fire. It relit. He put it out again, rolled around on the ground with massive hernias he suffered after getting injured in a recent motorcycle accident and then he kept rolling around on the ground until that fire was out, that's a hero." Alderman said.



More News