BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF) Trooper Dan Moran said May 23 started out quietly.
On routine patrol, he came upon an SUV that had just been in a crash and was in flames.
Trooper Moran and a passer-by extinguished the fire, but couldn’t see inside due to thick smoke.
Then they heard the voice of the driver, 68-year-old Henry Ater of Blanchester, Ohio, saying he couldn’t get his seat belt off.
Moran tried to reach Ater, first through the passenger side window, then through the driver’s side.
Moran said he had to cut the man’s shoulder belt and lap belt.
Then he and the other individual were able to pull Ater out the window, feet first.
In the meantime, the fire rekindled, so they carried him farther from the SUV.
A medical helicopter landed on the interstate and flew Ater to a burn center.
Now, five months later, Ater is still recovering from second and third degree burns, fractures of the back, ribs, facial bones and upper arm.
But his daughter, Amanda Keech, tells 7News that without Trooper Moran, she feels certain her father would not be alive today.
“Trooper Moran was meant to be at that place, at that time,” said Keech. “He is just amazing.”
She said her dad is still seeing orthopedic specialists, physical therapists and occupational therapists.
“Thank God for that trooper,” she concluded. “My dad’s SUV had been rear-ended, flipped over and caught fire. That trooper cut him out. He saved his life.”
Trooper Moran received a certificate of commendation from the Ohio State Highway Patrol and a separate certificate from Senator Frank Hoagland.
Post Commander Lt. Maurice Waddell noted the lifesaving actions all took place in a span of only two and a half minutes.
He said troopers never know what they’ll encounter, and have to be prepared for anything.