Firefighters are crediting a local family with saving the life of a driver whose car caught fire after hitting a power pole.

“Had it not been for the quick and brave actions of the Jones family, the car crash probably would have resulted in a fatality,” German Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Matt Lynch said.

Russ Jones, his wife Kenya and son Loren were relaxing at their home at 8080 N. County Road 250W at 10:14 p.m. Thursday watching Netflix when a loud crash, followed by a big flash and boom interrupted their television viewing.

They sensed immediately what happened.

A motorist had hit a power pole on the curve across from their home, something that’s happened six times in the 20 years the Jones family has lived there.

But while all the other instances were relatively minor, this accident was different.

The power was cut to their home, and Russ Jones and his son went out to investigate. And after seeing the car, they called out from across the road for Kenya Jones to call 911.

Russ Jones said he and Loren found a female driver — yet to be identified — in a Ford Focus hatchback who was conscious, but severely stunned, lying across the passenger seat, he said.

A small fire was visible underneath the car and power lines were visible, tangled up in the trees and near the pole, which had broken with the impact.

“I looked to make sure the power lines weren’t in the road and I could see them tangled up in the trees. The wire next to the car looked like a guy wire and everybody’s electricity was knocked out. So I thought, hopefully, the electric lines are dead,” Russ Jones said.

That was later confirmed by firefighters, after Jones family members went about rescuing the driver.

“My son and I looked around the car, and I told him we needed something to bust the windows out,” Russ Jones said, noting he had seen a small fire had started underneath the car.

However, when Russ Jones tried the back hatch, it popped open at the handle and he stuck his head inside to speak with the driver.

The woman was moaning that she had been hurt, and Russ Jones said he told her she would have to crawl back to the hatch to get out because the rescuers were unable to move the latches to fold down the back seats.

The driver complied, and Russ and Loren Jones pulled her out and laid her down next to the car until they realized the flames were increasing, so they moved her to their front yard and covered her in blankets.

Within three minutes, the car was fully engulfed in flames, Lynch said.

A neighbor, a former EMT, arrived to help. Police officers, an ambulance, and German Township and Clifford firefighters worked to put out the car fire. Bartholomew REMC was called to replace the power pole and restore power to the area after the fire was out, Lynch said.

A day after the excitement, members of the Jones family went back to their normal routine Friday.

Russ Jones, who retired from United Parcel Service, delivers flowers for Flowers by Lois in Columbus. His wife Kanya works as an office manager for Bettner Wire Coating Dies Inc. in Columbus. Their son Loren is a graphic designer for TIS Group in Bloomington.

Cindy Thompson, manager at Flowers by Lois, said her employee had shown her a picture of the accident from Thursday night but had not mentioned that he helped pull the driver from a burning car.

“He’s very very humble,” she said of Russ Jones, who has worked delivering flowers for the shop for about a year.

Thursday night’s accident was by far the most serious the family has encountered, Russ Jones said.

When told of the firefighters’ contention that the family’s actions were heroic, he said, “Well, I wouldn’t call it that. I’m just glad we didn’t have to crawl into the car.”

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.