CLAYBANKS TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A car caught fire after hitting a tree in Claybanks Township in Oceana County, police said.
The driver, 39-year-old Jeremiah McDonald of Montague, told police he had swerved to avoid hitting a deer, went off the road and hit a tree.
A passing driver, Matthew Beebe of Holland, pulled the man from the passenger side window through heavy smoke and high heat, police said.
Beebe didn't see the accident for himself but saw the smoke. He also heard screams coming from the vehicle.
"I heard him screaming from inside the vehicle, 'Help me. I can't move. Help me,'" said Beebe. "So I ran down the hill to the vehicle. I couldn't tell what side of the vehicle he was on. Smoke was billowing out of the windows. I couldn't get to the driver's side because there was too much brush. Thankfully he either got knocked over and tossed to the drive to the passenger side, or he crawled over there."
Beebee was then able to prop McDonald onto the window and put his forearms underneath McDonald's armpits to prop him up on the side of the door.
Once on the ground, Beebe says McDonald's legs were in 'very bad shape,' with one leg snapped and pointing in a 90 degree angle.
Despite the pain, McDonald allowed Beebe to pull him up towards the top of the embankment where emergency crews had arrived. It was critical to move away from the car.
"Everything happened so fast, and I was really scared. At that point, I kept on thinking that the car was going to explode. It was making all kinds of weird noises. The flames were getting bigger."
Beebe feels that every second was crucial and believes he helped save the McDonald's life.
"I’m very grateful. l I feel like God put me in a place I was meant to be there at that point in time."
McDonald is currently being treated at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon for treatment. Over Facebook, McDonald's mother told Beebe that her son's injuries included two broken ankles and two broken legs. Doctors had performed surgery on one but are currently waiting for swellling to go down on the other.
Police say the incident occurred about 7 p.m. Monday on South Scenic Drive near Webster Road.
The car was fully engulfed in flames when officers arrived.
FOX 17 obtained a recording of the 911 call through a Freedom of Information Act request to Mason-Oceana 911. The call was originally routed to Muskegon Central Dispatch, which transferred the call to Mason-Oceana 911.
WARNING: The audio recording below contains graphic content and profane language: