Good Samaritan recalls horrors of fatal River Road accident

Good Samaritan recalls horrors of fatal River Road accident

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - One man is in a hospital bed, suffering the physical pain of trying to rescue strangers from a burning car.

Another Good Samaritan is feeling a different kind of pain. Wendell Freeman said he couldn't save the 13-month-old boy because he couldn't get him out of his car seat.

Freeman will never forget what he saw that morning, but said it's what he heard that haunts him.

"That baby yelling," he said. "That's what I think about."

He says he tried to save 13-month-old James Andrews from the burning SUV, but couldn't.

"If I would've got there a little faster I might have been able to save him," he said. "That's what you think about."

Wendell was cutting his grass Sunday morning, when he said the white Yukon XL sped by, missing the tight curve on River Road and crashing straight into a tree in Snows Cut Park. Freeman and several others rushed to help. They were able to save the driver, James' mother, 29-year-old Melissa Henderson, as well as her two and a half year old daughter Jacquelyn.

As the flames got bigger and hotter, Freeman said they were able to pull an unconscious Henderson out from her seat belt, through the driver's side window. But that was not the case for James.

"You know how in the front seat you can just pull them aside and pull them out of there but in the baby chairs you can't do that," he said. "You know what I mean? Too many straps."

He could not get James out of his car seat.

"I said get a knife, get a knife but couldn't find one," Freeman said. "By that time it was too late."

He says it was just too hot.

Another Good Samaritan, Jay Muxworthy, is recovering in Chapel Hill from second and third degree burns. Muxworthy and his wife Amy own Flaming Amy's in Wilmington and Carolina Beach.

Freeman has no injuries, but what he saw and heard is burned into his memory.

"I just don't want to see it again," Freeman added.

There is a criminal investigation into Sunday's crash along River Road.

Copyright 2016 WECT. All rights reserved.