(Image / BC Hydro Twitter)

Three Vancouver Island commuters are being credited with saving the life of one man following a dramatic crash near Port Alberni on Tuesday morning.

Just after 7:15 a.m., the Port Alberni Fire Department was called to a section of Highway 4 known as the ‘Alberni Hump’ for reports of a two vehicle collision.

“When we arrived on scene there was a pick-up truck fully engulfed in fire and an SUV with serious front end damage in the ditch,” said Port Alberni Fire Chief, Mike Owens.

But before authorities arrived, a rescue had already taken place. The young female driver of the SUV involved in the collision is being credited with initiating the rescue of a man still trapped within the burning pick up truck.

“The driver-side door of her vehicle was crushed so she had to shimmey out of the passenger side door and had to run around [the SUV] to aid the driver of the pick up truck whose feet were stuck inside of the cab,” said Owens.

The Fire Chief told Victoria Buzz that the trapped man also had a pre-existing broken leg, which made the rescue even more difficult.

More help on the way

While trying to get the man free, the woman’s brave efforts and the vehicle’s rising flames attracted the attention of two more motorists who were passing by the scene.

“…There was another motorist that had stopped and who had jumped out to help,” said Owens. “So he was at the window and he saw another motorist and between the three of them they managed to free [the trapped man’s] foot and pull him out of the driver side window.”

Authorities have been quick to commend the passing motorists for their bravery and credit them with saving the trapped man’s life.

“The civilians were just incredible,” said Jay Patovirato, Port Alberni RCMP Watch Commander. “They ended up saving the guy in my opinion. I’m so impressed by the actions of the civilians.”

“This is the story of everyday commuters putting their lives at risk to help someone in need,” said Fire Chief Owens. “All the recognition in the world to these three individuals. Without them we could’ve had a different outcome yesterday and they deserve to be known as heroes.”

Police say that weather conditions were a factor in the crash, and that the area is marked with steep hills that can become very slippery.

The injured man was transported to hospital for serious but non life-threatening injuries, and the female driver and one passing motorist were sent to hospital for treatment of minor burns that were sustained while pulling the man free.