Power washers douse fire, help save woman in Harvey County crash

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 6:37 PM CDT
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HARVEY COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) - The Harvey County Sheriff’s Office thanked two people on Wednesday for helping save a woman’s life.

The sheriff’s office said it received the call Tuesday morning about an injury accident on U.S. Highway 50 between Newton and Walton. A van had crashed into the back of a box truck. The woman inside the van was believed to be trapped - and her vehicle caught fire.

Caden Nedbalek and Chris Chandler, with Paradise Power Washing, a company out of Wichita, were on the road for a job in the area and witnessed the fire.

“Just cruisin’ along,” recalls Nedbalek, “and we see a plume of white smoke and a big truck turned sideways. All of the sudden we see a big poof of fire.”

A handful of drivers had pulled over and jumped into action. Adam Reep also helped save the woman.

”I saw a hydraulic cylinder that busted off the Unifirst truck, and I grabbed it and just bashed the window,” said Reep.

The sheriff’s office responded but was roughly 8 minutes away.

“Our dispatchers informed us there was a female entrapped in her van, and it had caught fire,” said Lorenzo Bohringer, a patrol deputy with the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office.

That’s when Nedbalek and Chandler arrived on the scene with roughly 75 gallons of water in their tank - unknowingly ready to save the day. They unrolled the hose, started up the machine, extinguished the fire and helped save the woman’s life.

”It was just instinct at that point, we saw a fire and knew what we had to do,” said Nedbalek.

Thousands of people drive up and down Highway 50 every day, but Tuesday morning the heroes were in the right place at the right time.

”To see 6 to 8 strangers running for the same purpose, to save a life... it’s probably the most beautiful thing you’ll see,” said Reep.

“I think that was God putting us there at the right time,” said Chandler.

The woman was taken to the hospital in serious condition but was reported to have non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the box truck had minor injuries.

“I feel like her life was saved because they were at the right place at the right time,” said Deputy Bohringer. “I feel that if they had not been able to put the fire out, there would have been no way we could have got to her before the fire guys got there.”

The sheriff’s office said it will always promote safety first in emergency situations, but “there’s never a wrong moment to do what’s right.”

“It’s inspiring to know there are people out there ready to give selflessly to help others in a dangerous situation,” reads a post on the sheriff’s office Facebook page. “Whether you believe in divine intervention or good karma or just impeccable timing, we know there were a couple special people in our area yesterday. We can’t thank them enough for their compassion.”

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