Woman escapes burning minivan on I-290; Good Samaritan stops to help

May 29, 2013 2:26:45 PM PDT
A passing driver stopped to help a woman inside a burning minivan on the Eisenhower Expressway in northwest suburban Elk Grove Village Wednesday.

PHOTOS: Elk Grove Village Van Fire Rescue

Illinois State Police say the incident began when the woman crashed on Interstate 290 near Biesterfield Road shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday.

According to authorities, the woman was driving northbound when she somehow lost control, crossed all lanes of traffic, hit a pole, and the vehicle became completely engulfed in flames.

"Cars burn fast. Materials inside of them lend to rapid fire spread, and it looked very dramatic," said Elk Grove Fire Department Lt. Scott Peterson.

The woman, Burr Ridge resident Regan Kotz, 31, got out with the help of a Good Samaritan just before flames spread the to passenger compartment.

Paramedics rushed her to Alexian Brothers hospital for minor injuries. She was not burned.

Shortly after, authorities arrested Kotz and charged her with DUI.

Passing driver Austin Ketelsen said he had just left from seeing the movie Fast and Furious 6 when he saw the whole thing and sprang into action, getting out of his car and running to help the woman who was trapped.

"Man, her face; she was bleeding. I could tell she was rummaging for something -- maybe her phone. We told her she had to get out. I asked her if she had any kids or animal or something in there. She said, 'No, no,' and I said, 'You've got to get out of there,'" said Ketelsen.

Meanwhile, the Elk Grove Village Fire Department commended Ketelsen.

"He really... great risk just pulling over to the shoulder and getting out of the car, but it was a good thing that he did it. He was a Good Samaritan. He did the right thing...He didn't get hurt. She didn't get further injuries at all, and it was a very good ending," Peterson said.

He described Ketelsen as a good example for others in similar situations.

"When the public stays to help, it's excellent. It'd be nice if more people would consider others and stop to help people," Peterson said.

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