BOSTON (CBS) — New England Patriots linebacker Darius Fleming helped rescue a woman after a car crash, leaving him with 22 stitches in his leg two days before a playoff game last week.
It was a story that wasn’t known publicly until sports agent Andy Simms tweeted the news Wednesday morning.
Fleming said he was leaving Gillette Stadium after practice Thursday around 4:30 p.m. when he saw a three-car accident near a Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 1.
There was a woman trapped inside one of the cars, and Fleming thought it was on fire, he told reporters Wednesday. Fleming couldn’t get into the car, so he started kicking a window with his right leg.
“Guys were like ‘Why didn’t you grab a brick to do this?’ The smoke inside the car started freakin’ me out so I was like I can’t like tell the lady ‘I’ll be right back’, I was kind of like get her out of here right now,” Fleming said.
“It didn’t break right away. I wasn’t sure if it was going to break, but on the third kick it broke and that was that.”
Fleming said the woman, who he did not know, appeared to be fine and he moved her away from the car.
“Once I saw my leg was bleeding pretty bad, I was like ‘You’re good, let me go make sure I’m alright because I got a game coming up,’” he said.
Fleming ended up with 22 stitches in his leg.
The woman who was trapped doesn’t want her identity revealed but is thankful for Fleming’s “heroic” actions.
“There was smoke coming from the front as it was smashed in, and then I started to try and kick in the passenger side window, when I saw someone approach and he gestured that he would kick the window open for me and he did after a couple of attempts,” the woman told WBZ-TV Wednesday night.
“I saw he was wearing a Patriots sweatshirt, he was athletic, it was right by Gillette, so I assumed it was a Patriots player,” she said.
Dr. Stephanie Kube was working nearby and saw the rescue.
“He was lifting up his leg and kicking at the door and the window. He was not a small man so it was a nice strong kick obviously,” Dr. Kube said. “Yes she was clawing at the window trying to get out she was very scared.”
“I am ever so grateful that he was able to be there and he pulled over and he was heroic in that way,” the woman who was trapped said.
Walpole Police say the vehicle that the woman was trapped in was not on fire. “There was no fire involved in this crash however there was air bag deployment, which to the untrained eye can appear as if the vehicle is enveloped in smoke,” police said.
One year ago, former Patriot Vince Wilfork helped rescue a woman who was stuck in a tipped Jeep along the side of Route 1.
“Honestly when it happened that was the first thing that came to my mind,” Fleming said, “but obviously I didn’t think I was going to be put into action like he was.”
Two days later, Fleming suited up for the Patriots, recording a special teams tackle on a Knile Davis kick return following the Patriots’ second touchdown, and assisting on a tackle of Charcandrick West in the third quarter.
Fleming said the injury didn’t affect him Saturday.
“I didn’t think about it too much,” he said. “I was just excited to be able to play. Because the first thing that came to my mind was damn my leg’s cut up pretty bad, so I wasn’t sure how that would affect me or how it would affect my game. I was fine.”
Fleming said when his teammates found out what had happened Thursday, “they had some jokes and things of that nature, but everybody was just like that’s pretty cool, I’m glad you were able to help her. I got some good feedback from it.”
“I never experienced anything like that. I don’t think it was that crazy. But I’m just glad that I was there to be able to help her.”
“We have great guys around here, no matter the time,” defensive captain Devin McCourty said Wednesday. “They’re always out in the community trying to save people. Darius was really quiet about it, but once the guys on the team got a hold of it, we forced him to give a speech. He explained it very simple: he saw a woman’s car smoking, and he just jumped out of his car. He’ll admit there were probably easier solutions he could have done, but I think it was nice and dramatic to kick in the window and pull her out.”
McCourty said that Fleming’s story was met with cheers from his teammates.
“I think it represents his character,” linebacker and captain Rob Ninkovich said. “He’s a great person and anyone in a situation where someone’s life could be in danger, you have to act on it and not just watch. He acted, did what he had to do, and it’s definitely someone you want in a situation like that, kicking through windows and taking stitches. It’s great what he did.”
Special teams captain and locker room leader Matthew Slater also commented on Fleming’s character.
“We have guys around here that understand the important things in life and they value the right things. It really speaks to their character, the way they were brought up and the things they believe in. Darius has been a standup guy since he got here, and when I heard the story I wasn’t surprised at all,” Slater said. “The way he carries himself, the way he treats people, he is a tremendous young man. We’re all very proud of him. You never know what to do in that situation, but what he did was remarkable.”
Fleming in his fourth NFL season, his second with the Patriots after getting drafted by the 49ers in 2012.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports