Several citizens risked their own lives in an attempt to help two men trapped in a burning car Wednesday night following a traffic accident.
The wreck happened on Hwy. 87 - north of NAS Whiting Field.
One person died and one was seriously injured. The Florida Highway Patrol says Charles Terry Griffis, 50, Century, died at the scene of the crash. He was the passenger in a 2000 Chrysler Concorde driven by William Samuel Stapleton Jr, 47, Milton.
The vehicle caught fire after Stapleton lost control on Hwy 87 North, about seven miles north of Milton. The Chrysler was traveling north at the time and went onto the east shoulder of the road, according to FHP. The car hit a tree and stopped at the collision site.
Emergency 911 dispatchers received the call around 9:23 p.m. saying two people were trapped inside the burning car. It is reported that several people tried to put out the fire and rescue the pair from inside the vehicle.
One witness, Laura Campbell-Carnley commented on the Press Gazette Facebook page: "I slowed down because I saw lights and vehicles on the side of the road. A man ran to my car and asked if I had a fire extinguisher. I didn't but I pulled over and ran them the only water I had - just a half a bottle. It wasn't enough to do anything but we wanted to help.
"I frantically called 911. The men put the fire out with their jackets. My husband and another man tried to open the passenger door but it was stuck. Luckily an EMT was there and she was holding the head of the driver."
Campbell-Carnley says it appeared the passenger did not have a pulse.
"...it was a terrible feeling not knowing what to do and wondering how we would get them out if the fire started again. It is amazing though - all the people coming together to try to save these two peoples lives."
Skyline and Allentown Fire Departments responded to the scene and performed an extrication to remove Stapleton. He was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital. At the time, he was unresponsive and unconscious.
Lifeguard Ambulance paramedics pronounced Griffis dead at the scene, according to FHP. He died from injuries incurred in the accident and not from the fire.
Reports indicate alcohol may have been a factor in the accident. Results of the alcohol test are pending.