Chris Faber and his girlfriend, Rhonda Witherspoon, were driving to a restaurant in Kingsport on Saturday night when they witnessed a car accident that killed one person.
After a car pulled out in front of them, causing them to slam on their brakes, Faber said the vehicle ahead of them proceeded down the road much too quickly, narrowly missing another a car. The vehicle, an Acura, then crashed head-on into a Ford Expedition sport utility vehicle, causing both to go up in flames.
He said the condition of the Acura gave them the impression that no one in that vehicle could have survived. Faber was right — the driver of the Acura died. The witnesses then focused on the three people in the SUV.
“We were scared to death we were going to watch these people burn to death,” Faber said.
Facing a tough decision to go into the blazing wreck, and seeing the other witnesses pulling out two people from the driver’s side of the SUV, Faber said adrenaline kicked in and he moved to the passenger side door to pull out a victim. Upon learning the door was jammed, Faber remembered he had a car window-breaker tool in his vehicle. With one swing, he was through the window and pulled one of the victims from the SUV.
The Kingsport Times News said crash reconstructionists reported the car was traveling at 104 mph when it struck the SUV, which was determined to be traveling 35 mph.
Being called a hero is something Faber says he’s not interested in, but said he might have qualities useful in situations like this.
“I’ve been told I have a calm head,” Faber said.
Faber said he lost some arm hair, but other than that, he was uninjured. He said they wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of the other people who also stopped to help.
As for training in situations like this, Faber said he was a Boy Scout growing up and had witnessed an accident before, but nothing compared to this.
Faber and Witherspoon had just moved to Johnson City a month ago, so he could start a new job in marketing and sales. He’s a graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he earned a degree in international business.
The three people in the SUV are in critical condition.
“It’s a sad situation,” Faber said. “But I’m glad more people didn’t die. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, who will be affected by this for a long time.”
After the wreck, Faber said the first thing he did was call his mom to thank her for putting the window-breaking tool in his car.