Couple, ex-firefighter pull two women from burning car after accident

September 16, 1992|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

The name of Philip Kiesling was misspelled in a story Wednesday about the rescue of two women from a burning car in Ellicott City. The story also incorrectly described Mr. Kiesling's role in the rescue. He provided medical treatment to the women after they were removed from the car.

The Howard County Sun regrets the errors.

One minute Anthony and Regina Rodriquez were eating hot french fries outside Daniel's Tavern in Elkridge. The next, they were pulling two women from a burning Mercury Capri.

"All of a sudden I heard a large boom," said Anthony Rodriquez, 40, a maintenance superintendent in Upper Marlboro. He turned to see a three-car accident and flames shooting from one of the cars.


The couple ran about 25 yards up the street to the burning Capri to help the women.

The accident occurred about 1 p.m. Saturday when a 1992 Ford pick-up truck driven by Albert Lee Collins, 34, of Ellicott City, struck the rear of the 1985 Capri on U.S. 1 near Old Washington Boulevard, police said. The Capri's gas tank ruptured, and the car caught fire.

The driver of the Capri, 64-year old Roberta Eckes of Baltimore, was preparing to make a left turn on Old Washington Boulevard when Mr. Collins, of the 11000 block of Triadelphia Road, failed to reduce speed and slammed into her car, said Detective Michael Sherman, a county police spokesman.

The collision sent the vehicles into the northbound lanes, where they struck a 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier.

Ms. Eckes and her sister, Peggy C. Barnickel, 63, also of Baltimore, were trapped inside the Capri.

"The driver was looking out the window. She probably didn't know what to do," Mr. Rodriquez said. "I yanked the door open."

He slipped off Mrs. Eckes' shoulder harness, while Phillip Kessling, a bystander and former firefighter in Howard County, reached through the passenger side window and unbuckled her seat belt.

"I bent down not to get burned," Mr. Rodriquez said. "There were flames on the roof, and you couldn't see the back of the car.

"The driver was conscious. She didn't say anything, and if she did I don't know what," Mr. Rodriquez said.

After freeing her, Mr. Rodriquez ran to Ms. Barnickel, who was unconscious in the passenger seat. The Rodriquezes and Mr. Kessling freed her and carried her to the grass.

Within seconds, "there were pieces of the car shooting away," Mr. Rodriquez said. "I don't know what pieces. But all of a sudden we ducked. It was pretty frightening."

Ms. Barnickel was taken to St. Agnes Hospital, where she died about an hour later after suffering cardiac arrest. Her sister was treated and released from the same hospital.

"Had someone not acted on the scene, two people would've lost their lives," said Chief Donald R. Howell, a spokesman for the county fire and rescue services.

Mr. Collins, the pick-up truck's driver, was also taken to St. Agnes hospital, where he was treated and released.

Charges in the accident are pending, Detective Sherman said.

Constance Diane McCrory, 31, of the 2800 block of Eastshire Drive in Baltimore, was not injured when the vehicles struck her Cavalier, police said.

Anthony Rodriquez suffered minor burns to his hands, and his 30-year-old wife sustained blisters on two fingers.

The Capri sustained $5,000 in damage, Chief Howell said.

Yesterday, Mr. Rodriguez, a father of four, said, "Today it kind of hit me. 'This was kind of dangerous.' "

He said he doesn't consider himself a hero.

"Not really. It's just the kind of thing [where] you happened to be in the right place at the right time," Mr. Rodriquez said. "I couldn't stand there and watch two people burn."

Mrs. Rodriguez said, "I think anybody would've done what we did in our position, I guess. It would've been heroic if she would've pulled through."

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