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Hero chef pulls injured driver from car moments before it burst into flames

PUBLISHED: 15:17 13 October 2019 | UPDATED: 07:33 14 October 2019

Chef James Barnes, who works at The Hero in Burnham Overy, helped save a father from his burning vehicle after a crash on the A149 at Holkham. Picture: Archant

Chef James Barnes, who works at The Hero in Burnham Overy, helped save a father from his burning vehicle after a crash on the A149 at Holkham. Picture: Archant

Archant

A pub chef has been hailed as a hero after he plunged into a car to pull a stricken driver to safety - moments before it burst into flames.

James Barnes, who helped save a father from his burning car after a crash on the A149 at Holkham, aptly works at The Hero in Burnham Overy. Picture: ArchantJames Barnes, who helped save a father from his burning car after a crash on the A149 at Holkham, aptly works at The Hero in Burnham Overy. Picture: Archant

James Barnes was driving to work at aptly-named pub, The Hero, in Burnham Overy Staithe on Saturday evening, when he came upon the aftermath of a serious collision between a car and a bus on the A149 at Holkham just after 5pm.

Having stopped immediately and dialled 999, the 23-year-old saw the car was smoking heavily with its four occupants struggling to get out.

Alongside a fellow motorist and a bus passenger, Mr Barnes darted towards the crash to assist the stranded father and his three children.

"I was the first person behind the crash," said Mr Barnes, who lives in Holt. "As I came round the bend, I saw what had happened and slammed on the brakes.

"The kids managed to crawl out but the car was smoking like hell. I tried to yank the driver's door open because the driver was injured and couldn't move.

"I'm a big guy but the door just wouldn't open. Two ladies and I managed to pull the man out and dragged him up the road on the parcel shelf.

"Once we'd dragged him up the road the car was fully engulfed and we had to go even further because the whole thing was up in flames.

"One of the ladies put him in the recovery position and suddenly all the emergency services were there. After that the shock really kicked in."

A car carrying four passengers and a bus collided on the A149 at Holkham. Picture: Google MapsA car carrying four passengers and a bus collided on the A149 at Holkham. Picture: Google Maps

Police, fire crews and ambulances reached Holkham in a matter of minutes before firefighters tackled the blaze.

Two of the casualties were taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, one of them via air ambulance.

Paramedic Al Moore, 52, a volunteer for Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS), said Mr Barnes was a hero.

"He was in so quickly he stopped it being much more serious. It was a heroic act, plain and simple," he said.

Chef James Barnes, who works at The Hero in Burnham Overy, helped save a father from his burning vehicle after a crash on the A149 at Holkham. Picture: ArchantChef James Barnes, who works at The Hero in Burnham Overy, helped save a father from his burning vehicle after a crash on the A149 at Holkham. Picture: Archant

But Mr Barnes insists he simply "did what needed to be done".

He added: "One of the ambulance guys said it was a 'selfless, heroic act', but that's not what it was - I just happened to be there and anyone in my situation would have done the same.

"The firefighters spoke to me and said they appreciated what I did, but I didn't do anything out of the ordinary.

"I was never going to just stand there and watch the guy burn, and neither were those ladies. They're more heroic than me.

James Barnes, who helped save a father from his burning car after a crash on the A149 at Holkham, aptly works at The Hero in Burnham Overy. Picture: ArchantJames Barnes, who helped save a father from his burning car after a crash on the A149 at Holkham, aptly works at The Hero in Burnham Overy. Picture: Archant

"If I was in that situation, I hope someone would do the same for me."

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