July 16–PALM BEACH GARDENS — Dave and Ashley Terrana were enjoying the scenery on their way to a family vacation in Venice Beach when the driver behind them ran off the road and struck an electrical pole, his car quickly catching fire.
Fortunately for him, the Terranas are Palm Beach Gardens firefighter/paramedics.
Dave Terrana, driving their Tahoe with two young children in the back, knew something was wrong on July 5 when he heard Ashley say, “Oh, crap, look behind us.”
A Lincoln Town Car traveling about 60 mph went off the road and hit a cement electrical pole along State Road 70 near Lake Placid about 10:30 a.m. The engine compartment burst into flames almost immediately, they said. Dave Terrana immediately pulled over and told his family to stay put.
He ran a little more than 50 yards to the car and he opened the driver’s side door to find a man in his mid-60s.
“He had blood on his head, blood on his shirt,” Dave Terrana said, recounting the rescue at Station 65 on Hood Road.
He and another bystander yanked the man out of the car and carried him about 20 feet. The car caught fire after 30 to 45 seconds.
The man told Dave Terrana the accident happened when he reached down for a drink of water. When he looked up, he saw brake lights and jerked the wheel. That puzzled the Terranas, who said they had been behind a semi-trailer for an hour, taking their time as they took in the scenery.
“He was coming fast behind us,” Ashley Terrana said.
The other bystander called 911 while Dave Terrana bandaged the man’s head. Terrana started carrying a bag of medical supplies with him at all times about three or four years ago, realizing all his experience didn’t amount to much without them.
“You don’t want to think about a worst-case scenario, but you want to be prepared for it,” he said.
Ashley Terrana wanted to help, but she kept watch over daughter Hadley, 7, and son Hutton, 5. Hutton was “freaking out” when he couldn’t see his dad, she said. Ashley worried a little, too, seeing her husband run toward the burning car without any of the usual protective gear.
“I know the type of man he is, and he would have done it for anybody,” she said.
It took about 20 minutes for emergency personnel in the rural area to arrive — a shock to the Terranas. Ninety percent of the time, Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue responds to a call within eight minutes and 45 seconds, according to statistics provided by the city in April.
The man was transported from the scene via helicopter. He survived his injuries.
“It makes you really appreciate good people. Maybe if we weren’t right there in front of him, it could have been a different outcome,” Ashley Terrana said.
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