Pastor bashes sunroof with small bat to save man from burning car

COLLETON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A man was rescued from a burning car Saturday night by a local pastor and two other witnesses in Colleton County. The pastor used a mini baseball bat to break the car's sunroof open and rescue the victim.

"It was like the hand of God reached around me and we began to pull him out," said pastor Johnny Byrd.

According to the Colleton County Fire and Rescue website, a vehicle traveling north on Sidneys Road failed to stop at Augusta Highway around 9:20 p.m. As a result, the vehicle crashed into a tree and caught fire.

The car just missed hitting another vehicle before crashing. The woman driving the second car, Morgan Blocker, drove a short distance home to get help from her father, Byrd, who is a local pastor.

The two quickly returned to the scene to find the vehicle on fire. Byrd found a man still inside the car unconscious. The car had broken a tree in half, knocked down a metal car port and overturned. The car was lying on the driver's side mixed in with the debris of the car port and the downed tree.

"I looked down and his feet were on fire," Byrd said. "The screams that this man put out, I'll never forget."

As the fire continued to spread, Byrd flagged down another man named Mark Dawson, for help. Byrd located a miniture baseball bat near the wrecked car after it had been thrown from the wreckage. After more than 10 tries, the pastor was able to bash through the car's sunroof. The interior of the car was filled with smoke and flames.

The two men reached into the burning car and pulled the victim out through the sunroo, but the victim got stuck.

"We began to pull and then the car exploded. And when it did, it blew us all back. I wouldn't let go and it blew him out," Byrd said.

Byrd said the victim's clothes were on fire. The witnesses extinguished the victim's burning clothes while fire and rescue units arrived on scene.

Firefighters found the car fully involved when they arrived. Paramedics treated the victim, Byrd and Dawson. The victim was transported him to Colleton Medical Center. He was treated and stabilized at Colleton Medical Center and then quickly transferred by to the trauma center at MUSC.

The victim, Ronald Brian Thompkins, was burned on over 50 percent of his body and received multiple traumatic injuries. The pastor received second degree burns on both of his hands.

Thompkins was later charged with DUI by South Carolina Highway Patrol.

According to Colleton County Fire and Rescue officials, the actions of the three witnesses saved Thompkins' life.

"I'm nothing," Byrd said. "God used me and I give the glory to him."

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