When a Greenwood man drove up to a truck that had crashed on the side of the road and caught fire, he knew he had to put out the flames and get the driver out.
Steven Fettinger didn’t have a fire extinguisher. After trying to get the driver out of the truck, he realized he couldn’t. So Fettinger used snow to extinguish the flames and used the medical training he received in the Army to stabilize the driver until emergency workers arrived.
“I can’t honestly tell you what I was thinking at the time. I just had to do something. It was just pure adrenaline, do what you’ve got to do,” Fettinger said.
Joseph Carter, 29, of Martinsville, was headed east on Tracy Road, near South Graham Road at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday. Police said he drove off the side of the road and slid into a tree.
Carter was bleeding severely after the crash and was taken to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Details on his condition were not available Sunday.
Fettinger was driving west on Tracy Road, heading home when he saw the accident.
“The road was nothing but ice. Just a big, black sheet of ice,” Fettinger said.
Fettinger saw Carter’s headlights coming toward him and then start spinning as Carter lost control of the truck.
As Fettinger got closer to where Carter’s truck had run off the road he could see flames a foot-and-a-half tall coming from under the cab of the truck. Fettinger was in the Army from 2005 through 2011 and was trained in combat lifesaving, meaning he knew how to stabilize someone who was severely injured, and he knew he had to get Carter out of the truck.
When Fettinger got to the truck he saw that Carter was unconscious and bleeding badly. He broke the handle of the door trying to get it open, and when that didn’t work he tried to get Carter out through the window.
Fettinger knew that the flames under the truck were getting bigger, and when he realized he couldn’t get Carter out of the truck he grabbed snow and started throwing it on the fire. Fettinger didn’t know whether the snow would work, but he had no other options, he said.
Once the fire was out, he supported Carter’s head and neck until emergency workers arrived and removed Carter from the truck.
“It was just instincts that kicked in. I hope I did everything right. I got him breathing, and I got the fire out. That was all I could do,” Fettinger said.
The accident is under investigation. Investigators are conducting toxicology tests on Carter, which is typical in serious crashes. Those results likely won’t be available for at least a few weeks, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said.