A Good Samaritan who helped pull an injured woman from a damaged, burning car in Chelsea over the weekend is an Iraq combat veteran with experience helping injured people.

William Stover, 31, of Pittston, an Army sergeant who earned two Purple Hearts for injuries he suffered in 2004, said burning vehicles were not an unusual sight in Iraq.

“I’ve dealt with burning people before, and burning cars,” Stover said.

The injured driver, Tracee Pushard, 47, of Richmond, was taken by a LifeFlight of Maine helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. Maine State Police Lt. David Tripp said Pushard is expected to make a full recovery.

Tripp said alcohol appears to have been a factor in the crash, but police are awaiting blood test results. Pushard has not been charged, Tripp said.

Tripp said Stover, along with Maine State Police Trooper Patrick Munzing, Kennebec County Sheriff Deputy Aaron Moody and Gardiner Police Officer Nate McNally, were able to pull Pushard from her car just moments before it erupted into a ball of flames.

“She was lucky,” Tripp said. “They did a great job.”

Munzing was treated for superficial cuts to his forearm that he suffered while breaking a window in the effort to free Pushard from the vehicle, Tripp said.

The crash occurred around 10:30 p.m., Saturday near the Randolph town line on Route 9. Munzing, responding to a report of an erratic driver, met Pushard’s car, turned to follow it and was about to activate his lights to pull her over when the car veered to the right and caromed off a guard rail, Tripp said. The car bounced off the guard rail, crossed the road, and struck a utility pole, snapping it in two and causing two large transformers to fall to the ground.

“When she hit the pole everything went black,” said Tripp, who has seen video footage of the scene taken by a camera mounted in Munzing’s cruiser. “Then, all of a sudden two large transformers fell off the pole. They exploded when they hit the ground.”

Stover, who was driving home from a friend’s house, happened upon the crash moments after it occurred. Stover noticed Munzing, who was tending to Pushard, was alone, so he stopped to see if he could help.

“I saw there was a fire off to the left side of the vehicle,” said Stover, who tried to douse the flames with a fire extinguisher he carries in his vehicle.

“The oil from the transformers was all over the ground,” he said.

Moody and McNally arrived shortly after Stover, and helped Munzing in trying to remove Pushard from the car. Stover said he got into the back seat through a back door to help open the front passenger side door — the fire and pole blocked the driver’s side — as Munzing, Moody and McNally pulled Pushard from the car.

The four men then carried Pushard away from the fire.

“At that time the fire was coming right up to the vehicle,” Stover said. “The car caught fire maybe 20 seconds after we got out of the vehicle. When we finally laid the lady on the ground, probably 100 yards away, pretty much the whole vehicle was on fire.”

Stover said the police unquestionably made the right decision to remove Pushard from the car.

“They did a wonderful job,” he said.

Stover, who was at first reluctant to talk about his actions, said he was not trying to be a hero.

“I always help if I see something wrong,” he said. “I was pretty much just trying to help them out as much as possible.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

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