State Trooper Hailed as Hero for Saving Woman from Burning Car
By: Crystal Britt
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. - It's not a scene from a movie, but to Missouri State Troopers, Andy Ward and Corey Tucker, it's a real life drama. Sitting at a desk in their office in Poplar Bluff, the two troopers watch the dramatic scene unfold on Tucker's dash camera video.
It all starts Monday afternoon on Highway "W" North of Poplar Bluff. Aileene Meadows, 84, crashes into a concrete culvert. Her car catches on fire. Trooper Andy Ward is the first to arrive.
"I knew I needed to get in the vehicle or she could have died right there on the scene," said Ward.
Trooper Ward wasn't alone. About six people stopped to help. They used fire extinguishers to knock down the flames. Then someone told Trooper Ward, the driver's foot was caught under the brake pedal.
"I entered the vehicle, ran my hand down her leg, found her foot. I couldn't see her from all the smoke," said Ward.
Then, Trooper Corey Tucker arrives.
"Right before I got to the car he dives right in there, the driver's side window. His feet and legs are sticking out. About that time the flames re-ignite. There are flames up around his body and coming up over the car," said Tucker.
"My feet were off the ground and the other trooper, Trooper Tucker, came and pulled me backward," said Ward.
Ward catches his breath then runs to the passenger window.
"The other bystanders and myself entered the window and pulled her out through the window," said Ward.
Seconds later, he says the car went up in flames.
Aileene Meadow's daughter Judy can still hardly believe what happened.
"None of these people ever thought. They just reacted. They were all bound and determined to get her out and she wasn't going to die in that car," said Judy Meadows.
Mrs. Meadows remains at the Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center. She has a lot of cuts and bruises and is on a ventilator from all the smoke she inhaled. Her daughter says the amazing thing is Aileene doesn't have one burn on her body.
"Her hair's not even scorched. She's lucky. No lucky's not the word. God blessed her," said Judy Meadows.
When Judy cleaned out the burned car, she found her mom's wallet. Inside, there's a guardian angel card, barely touched by fire. Judy calls Trooper Ward and everyone else on the scene, her mom's guardian angels.
"I feel God used them as an instrument to save her."
"I just feel like God put me there for a reason," Ward said.
"God gives you the talent, if you can call it talent. God gave us the courage to do what we had to do," Tucker said.
Trooper Andy Ward, 22, does have some singed hairs on the back of his head and was treated for smoke inhalation. We're told he's been recommended for an award of valor.