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The 340 mile marker on Interstate 40 in Roane County was the site of a vehicle fire where a Tennessee Titans rookie linebacker reportedly helped save a woman, her children and their dog.
“We were going up a hill and the car in front of me started smoking,” Jonathan Willard told ESPN. “Probably about 30 seconds after that, I saw two big flames come from the car.”
The incident happened last Tuesday. Willard said he and another good Samaritan got the driver, identified as Cheri Hubbard of South Daytona, Fla., to pull over.
“They’re my angles,” Hubbard was quoted by ABC News. “They were God sent. It was a miracle that they were there.”
Willard told ESPN his first reaction was to get the children out of harm’s way.
“We told the lady the car was on fire,” he said. “The first thing I knew to do was get the kids out their car seats and get them to safety.”
The Tennessee Highway Patrol took a report on the fire, but it didn’t provide much details.
“The witness or witnesses were no longer on the scene once the trooper arrived,” THP spokesperson Dalya J. Qualls said.
The report said Hubbard was traveling west when her Chevrolet SUV overheated, caught fire and burned.
“The whole front end of the car was just about ignited,” Hubbard was quoted by ABC News. “The tires started popping one-by-one. It was really scary.”
Willard wasn’t picked in the NFL draft, but he signed with the Titans as a free agent. The Loris, S.C. native played college football at Clemson.
“We’re proud that he got involved, saw something and reacted in a positive way and brought good to a tough situation,” Titans Head Football Coach Mike Munchak was quoted by Titans Online.