A Buffalo Township man was driving home from work on Route 908 in Fawn Townsip Tuesday afternoon when he came upon a two-vehicle wreck at the intersection with Lardintown Road.
Bill Morio told Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE that he noticed a woman, later identified as 64-year-old Linda Orris, couldn’t make it out of her burning car.
“It wasn’t just a fender bender. The whole driver’s side was crushed in,” Morio said. “It was the most helpless feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.”
Emergency responders hadn’t arrived yet and Morio said he didn’t see anyone else around. So citing his 25 years in the Marine Corps, Morio knew he had to respond.
Morio said he spoke to Orris for a few minutes before noticing flames under the hood.
“I've seen plenty of car fire, and I know it only takes a few minutes before a car is engulfed,” said Morio, who has a background in trucking.
Trying not to alarm Orris, Morio yelled for other bystanders to get him a fire extinguisher.
He said he used one, but it wasn't enough to douse the flames.
At that time, Fawn police Officer Erik Bergstrom arrived and emptied a second extinguisher. The flames still weren't out.
Bergstrom said he used the empty extinguisher to break a rear window.
“At that point, we were going to pull her out,” Bergstrom said. “I'd rather have her have broken legs than a burnt body.”
But then someone handed Morio a third extinguisher, and that finished the job.
About that time, firefighters arrived, and they were able to free Orris from the wreckage.
Bergstrom said Orris was taken to UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh; her injuries included a compound fracture in one ankle.
The other driver, Christopher Wisor, 25, of Blairsville, was taken to Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison; Bergstrom said Wisor's employer at Porta-John Industries Inc. reported that he was treated for broken ribs and released.
Bergstrom did not expect charges to be filed in the crash. He also thanked Morio for his efforts.
“If it wasn't for that man right there, that lady would have burned,” he said. “She's a very lucky lady.”
Morio noted he just started a new job this week. He normally would have taken Route 28 home, but instead used a “back way” on Tuesday that put him on Route 908.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Morio said. “I absolutely believe God put me in the right place to help her.”
Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.