Truck driver rescues teenage cancer patient from burning car

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EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — It was a courageous act that saved someone’s life.

A Clay County truck driver put it all on the line after spotting a car on fire on a busy interstate. Gary Pridemore was driving back to Excelsior Springs passing through Higginsville, when quick thinking helped save the life of a passenger in the burning car.

It was just another drive home for Pridemore. That was back on Dec. 10, and Gary’s truck was passing through Lafayette County, when he says he noticed a burning car on the side of the road.

Pridemore managed to snap one photo of the burning four-door sedan, before he and another driver parked their automobiles, and pulled one of the passengers from the burning car.

“I saw sparks coming down underneath the vehicle. It was like melting plastic. As I got up alongside it, I could see the windshield was on fire too,” Pridemore told FOX 4 News.

The Missouri Highway Patrol said Gary’s story is true, but no police report was taken, so the name of that teenager he helped name remains a mystery. They also said that passenger couldn’t get out of the car because she’s a teenager who’s undergoing treatment for cancer.

“You could tell she had cancer. She had hair that looked like a cancer patient. They had her in a wheelchair,” Pridemore said.

Police say the rescuers weren’t able to save her wheelchair or walker, but they got her out alive.

Bob Waller owns Waller Trucking, the Excelsior Springs-based company Pridemore drives for. Since Gary’s heroic act two weeks ago, Pridemore is being looked upon as a hero.

“He’s had an impact and changed a family’s life forever. If they’d lost their daughter, it would have been horrific,” Waller said.

“I just helped other people like you’d want to be helped,” Pridemore said.

Pridemore said that the family asked him to pull a large bag of prescription medicines from that burning car. Those were meant for that young cancer patient, and by doing so, Pridemore not only saved her life, he encouraged her health to improve as well.

Fire investigators in Lafayette County say they’re not sure what caused that car to burn.

Although Pridemore doesn’t know the name of the teen, just knowing she’s alive is enough.

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