A Kansas City man says he would be dead if not for a woman who saved him from a car fire Saturday near the West Bottoms.
Brian Orlich was alone and driving his 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer westbound on Interstate 670 about 12:30 p.m. when he ran over a mattress that was lying on the highway. The mattress coils apparently cut into the fuel line of the vehicle and started a fire.
A woman driving behind Orlich saw what was happening and got his attention to pull over. She pulled over, as well, and ran to a shocked Orlich.
“She grabbed the door and said: ‘Come on! You have to get out!’ ” Orlich said. “She had to literally pull me away.”
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The woman called 911, and a fire crew arrived. A law enforcement officer told Orlich he had been coming to get the mattress out of the highway after someone had reported it.
Orlich had been on his way to a wrestling event at Soccer Nation in Kansas City, Kan.
“The next thing I know my car was in flames and I thought, ‘Oh my god, it’s going to blow!’ ”
The Trailblazer was destroyed by flames that Orlich said were 20 feet high.
“I’d rather have that gone than my life,” he said.
He didn’t catch the woman’s name, and before he knew it she had left the scene.
“Without her I would have been dead at 28 years old,” Orlich said. “She probably doesn’t think she needs a thank you, but I think she does. I usually don’t make a big deal out of something, but this is a huge deal to me. You don’t meet a lot of guardian angels in Kansas City, or anywhere for that matter. It was a surreal experience that I don’t ever want to go through again.”