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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Forest Preserves Employee Saves Drag Racer From Burning Car: ‘I Hope Someone Would Do The Same Thing For Me’

Chris Cammon shares his story of how he and other witnesses jumped into action to pull the 24-year-old driver of a wrecked Hyundai to safety early Sunday morning.

Chris Cammon pulled an injured man out of a burning car in South Shore.
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SOUTH SHORE — If Christopher Cammon hadn’t spent the night at his friend’s house in South Shore, he wouldn’t have been around to help rescue a man from his car when it burst into flames Sunday morning.

Cammon’s typical commute to his job as a seasonal laborer for the Forest Preserves of Cook County usually takes two hours. Normally, at 3 a.m., he’d be outside his Auburn Gresham home waiting for a bus to work.

But that morning, as he waited at 79th Street and Jeffery Boulevard for the bus and an easier commute from his friend’s house, he heard tires screech about two blocks away — a telltale sign of drag racing.

Moments later, a Chevrolet Impala reached the intersection, followed closely by a Hyundai. The Hyundai clipped the Impala, lost control and smashed into a pole.

Cammon estimates the cars were going about 50 miles per hour when the crash occurred. It was so violent, Cammon said he worried the pole would fall into the street.

Police said the Impala sped off down Jeffery Boulevard after the crash. A suspect in the hit-and-run has not been identified.

The resulting fire became “very serious” before fire crews arrived, engulfing the hood first before approaching the inside.

“People were pulling up to see what’s going on, so I yelled for people to help: ‘We have to get him out the car, it’s catching fire!'” Cammon said.

The 24-year-old Hyundai driver’s legs were “twisted and mangled” from the crash, and he was in danger of being set aflame.

So Cammon and three others — none of whose names he knows — rushed to action.

One person held the door open while Cammon pulled him out of the wreckage. Two others helped pull the man across the street to safety.

“It was something out of a movie scene,” Cammon said. “I’ve never seen anything like that. I hope people never experience it in real life.”

After firefighters and paramedics arrived to take the driver away, Cammon said he “felt like his job was done” and headed off to work. He was half an hour late, not that it mattered much to his bosses, who lauded him as a hero.

“I told my supervisors to let them know why I was late” as soon as he got to work, Cammon said. “They said I actually should have stayed on the scene longer, but I didn’t want to be too late.”

Cammon didn’t get the man’s name he saved and hasn’t visited the University of Chicago Hospital to check up on his progress. Nor has he since seen the other “Good Samaritans” who played equally important roles in making sure the man wasn’t trapped in the car.

Cammon returned to his normal schedule since the crash, and downplayed the idea he’s a “hero.”

He said he simply did the right thing in helping the driver out — something anyone else would have done in the same situation.

“My plans were just going to work and coming home, but I really felt like somebody put me there for a reason,” Cammon said. “I hope someone would do the same thing for me.”

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