CHADBOURN, N.C. (WECT) - A man and his 2-year-old daughter died as a result of a two-vehicle crash involving a tractor-trailer in Columbus County Thursday afternoon.
The wreck happened shortly after 1:30 p.m. on N.C. 410 outside of Chadbourn.
Troopers say the vehicle was traveling east on US 74, exited to NC 410, and failed to stop at the stop sign. Investigators at the scene said three people were inside a black four-door car when it collided with a fuel tanker.
Eric McCollum isn’t a first responder but he was first on the scene of Thursday’s deadly wreck near Chadbourn.
The Deshmukh family was heading to Myrtle Beach for their daughter’s birthday when they collided with a tractor trailer near NC 410. Davija would have been three years old on Friday. She died shortly after being taken to the hospital. Her father, Nukesh Deshmukh, died on the scene.
“With the smoke coming in and the engine on fire, it seemed like all was lost,” McCollum said.
The man successfully pulled the mother from the car’s wreckage. He also recalls doing everything in his power to get the couple’s toddler out of the burning car.
“I had the baby by the legs, but it was still in the car seat. I noticed that when I was pulling the baby that somebody was pulling on the other side,” said McCollum. "This young lady that broke the glass, she was pulling the baby by the arms so I let go and she pulled the baby out.”
With flames engulfing the four-door vehicle, McCullom says he truly wishes he could’ve helped pull the father out of the car.
Nukesh Deshmukh, 37, who was a passenger in the car, died at the scene. His daughter, Divija Deshmukh, 2, was taken to the hospital but later died.
“Wish we could’ve done more, but I think that everybody here did everything in their power to save the two people that we could,” McCullum expressed.
A husband, and a father of two, McCullom says his ride home was emotional. All he could think about was his own family.
“I just wanted to go home and see my family. You just never realize how quick something like this can happen," said McCollum. "It makes you appreciate your families, your loved ones.”
The driver of the vehicle, Monika Deshmukh, was taken to Chapel Hill for medical care and is expected to live.
According to Sgt. M.K. Young with the N.C. State Highway Patrol, the family is from Cary, and they are believed to be have been heading to the Myrtle Beach, S.C. area to celebrate Divija’s birthday. She would have turned 3 on Friday.
The driver of the tractor-trailer was taken to the hospital but has since been released.