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Neighbors Risk Their Lives To Save Man From Fiery Car Crash In NH

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV
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(Photo credit: Ana Sine)

(Photo credit: Ana Sine)

WBZ-TV's Jim Armstrong Jim Armstrong
Jim Armstrong is an Emmy-award winning reporter who joined WBZ-TV in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – The pictures taken by neighbors of a car on fire tell just part of the story.

Inside the vehicle was 26-year-old Peter Lucey. His leg was trapped, and broken right in half.

The accident happened around 8pm on November 4th, just as the Cambridge man was leaving dinner at his parents’ house in Atkinson, N.H.

“Everybody keeps saying, ‘Wow you’re lucky,’ and I definitely feel that way,” Lucey says. “I was just lucky that people were still on the road and able to come out and help.”

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

Lucey admits he was driving a little too fast when and lost control in a turn.

He hit a tree on North Broadway and blacked out for a bit; that’s when neighbors poured out of their homes to help.

“All of a sudden I heard a bang, and I thought here we go, another car crash,” said neighbor Mark Patuto. He and others who live on this road say there are at least six severe car crashes – some of them fatal – every year. This one was among the worst anyone here has seen.

“We heard the tires popping and the windows blowing out. It was horrible that night,” he says. He ran to the car from his house and found another couple had pulled over to help.

“When I came up, Peter was sitting next to his car. That’s as far as the other guy could drag him out. So when I came out, I ran up there and the car was blazing, the two of us grabbed him and dragged him down; we were all afraid the car was going to blow up on all three of us.”

Patuto’s wife called 911, as more neighbors ran to help.

Bill Sine lives right across the street from the crash site. He leapt to action, as his wife Ana brought out blankets and pillows for Lucey.

“[Peter] started getting pale and there was a lot of blood on the ground,” Sine explains. “I figured he was going to make it but I figured he was not going to save his leg.”

Then, out of nowhere, a woman driving by pulled over and got out to help. It turns out, she was a nurse who lives in town.

“She was unbelievable,” says Sine.

“She made us all calm down, and she asked who has a belt,” continued Patuto. “I whipped mine off.”

The nurse turned his belt into a tourniquet, and then asked neighbors for some magazines to use as a makeshift splint. She and Bill Sine pulled with all their might to stop the tremendous bleeding.

“She was the really the one that helped me save my leg and my life, because I could have bled out,” says Lucey.

Lucey went off in an ambulance and the neighbors all went home. The nurse used the Sine family bathroom to wash off all the blood, and went on her way, too.

Peter and his family were desperate to learn who the mystery nurse was. The same neighbors who helped save Peter’s life spent the next couple weeks doing the detective work to find that nurse, and sure enough, they contacted her today.

Her name is Susan Smith, and she’s actually a neo-natal intensive care nurse in Boston. Babies, she says, are far and away her specialty. But when she drove by Peter’s accident, she knew she had to pull over.

“I just stopped to see what was happening and I did what I could,” Smith explains – more than a little bit overwhelmed by all the attention her decision to help has brought her.

Smith and Peter finally got to talk on the phone tonight. “It was wonderful,” she says. “He sounded happy, said his leg is fine and he’s going to be fine.”

“I’m just so relieved that I found out tonight he’s OK.”

With time to reflect, Peter still can’t believe so many people went out of their way to help him.

“It’s a crazy feeling and you feel kind of silly because I caused this big ruckus and all these people came out and were willing to help,” he says.

“These people obviously didn’t think, they just reacted. And thank God.”

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