A Virginia man was saved by his 19-year-old daughter after she lifted his pickup off of him during a repair job that proved so dangerous that it even set fire to the family’s home.
Eric Heffelmire had been working underneath his GMC pickup when the truck suddenly slipped off the jack stand and pinned him to the floor.
“The minute the jack slipped, there was an almost instantaneous, real strong smell of gasoline, and then just, whoosh!” he tells nbcwashington.com.
While the fire grew, Charlotte Heffelmire, a student at the U.S. Air Force Academy, rushed into the garage from the family’s home. Seeing her dad pinned under the truck, the former high school pole vaulter attempted to lift it but failed. However, her second attempt proved successful.
“I felt the weight shift, and I said, ‘You almost got it,’ and then it was just UGHHHHHHRRR, and suddenly I’m pulled out,” Eric Heffelmire says.
After freeing her father, Heffelmire reentered the garage and backed out the truck on its three wheels to spare it from the flames. She then grabbed a hose and began dousing the family’s house with water while waiting on the fire department. Propane tanks inside the garage also caught fire.
Emergency officials, who were notified by Charlotte Heffelmire’s 911 call, credit her for also getting her grandmother and three-year-old niece out of the house as the attached garage burned.
Heffelmire, who stands 5-foot 6-inches talls and weighs 120 pounds, injured her back and burned her feet and hands during the rescue last November. She was barefoot at the time. She says her injuries have kept her from returning to the Air Force Academy and that her future military career is dubious.
“If I can’t do any of the military branches, then probably just intelligence or government work,” she says. “Right now I’m just healing up and making sure the family is OK.”
This past week, the Fairfax County fire department and former Virginia State Representative Jim Moran presented Charlotte Heffelmire with a Citizen Lifesaving Award.
Eric Heffelmire is fortunate. Last Friday, a man in southern Illinois was killed after a truck he was working on slipped off a jack stand and crushed him.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that 50-year-old David Martin had been working on the truck after hours in an Okawville repair shop. His father-in-law, who owns the shop and was concerned that Martin was not answering his cellphone, entered the garage that night and discovered his body.