Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Two people were critically injured in a fiery crash today but it would likely have been much worse if not for the fast actions of a local parole and probations officer.
Officials said around 3:30pm today a 2004 Ford Ranger being driven by James Allman of Indiana was headed west on KY HWY 70 (Mammoth Cave Road) towards KY 259. Allman said his brakes failed and being unable to stop, he simply tried to take the intersection as a curve. Unable to make the turn, the truck overturned, went over the curb and crashed into the guardrail where it immediately burst into flames.
Officer Josh Watt was headed south on 259 and witnessed the crash take place. According to eyewitness reports, he immediately jumped into action, reaching into the burning truck, cutting the seat belt of a female 17 year old passenger and pulling her to safety. Her clothes were reportedly on fire and Officer Watt put them out with his own hands. She suffered severe burns to her legs.
Authorities said Watt returned to the burning vehicle with the driver still trapped inside the upside down truck. Watt reportedly pulled him out of the vehicle while his clothes were also burning up. Watt was able to take his own clothes, wrap them around his hands and put out the driver's burning clothing.
Brownsville Police Chief Jeff Jewell said that if not for the quick action of Officer Watt, both the driver and his passenger would've likely perished in the flames.
"Don't let Josh play this down," Chief Jewell said. "This man is a genuine hero. There's no doubt he saved two lives today."
Watt said he really didn't think about much, other than he knew he had to act quickly.
"It was pretty intense," said Officer Watt. "I didn't know if I could get them out or not, it was just so hot. Hopefully they'll recover."
So hot, that Chief Jewell said the license plate of the truck melted and the VIN plate on the truck was still too hot to access at press time.
Allman was transported to the public library parking lot by Edmonson EMS where he was then airlifted to an unreported medical facility. Allman reportedly suffered from third degree burns on over half his body. His juvenile passenger was transported to the Medical Center via Edmonson EMS with severe burns on her legs.
The roadway was shut down for over an hour as crews cleared the scene.
Also responding to the scene was the Edmonson County Sheriff, Edmonson County JAWS, U.S. Park Rangers, and District 2 Constable.