CT Teacher Saves Disabled Man From Burning Van

A Connecticut teacher saved the life of a disabled man by pulling him from a van engulfed in flames.

The fire and the savior teacher with the man she rescued.
The fire and the savior teacher with the man she rescued. Photo Credit: Manchester Fire Rescue/EMS

The incident took place in Hartford County on I-384 in Manchester on Thursday, Feb. 23, said Manchester Fire Rescue/EMS on Facebook.

Heather Sica Leonard, a middle school teacher at Illing Middle School in Manchester, happened to be driving down the ramp at the same time the driver of the van, who uses a wheelchair, smelled smoke and found that his dashboard was on fire, fire officials said.

Suddenly finding himself in a burning van, John, last name not provided, stopped on the side of the Main Street ramp. Lenoard who saw what was happening stopped her car and approached the burning van, the department said.

She approached the burning van and selflessly got John and his wheelchair out of the car and moved him to safety, all at great personal risk of injury, officials added.

"Her actions averted an almost certain fatal outcome and prevented anyone from being injured," they added. "Well done Heather!"

Once the two were moved to safety, the department extinguished the fire using water, foam, and dry chemical agents. The fuel tank ruptured, causing a persistent fuel fire and subsequent spill, which entered storm drains, requiring a response from DEEP to assess the damage and coordinate cleanup.

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