3 strangers team up to pull man from flaming car in Chelsea

CHELSEA, MASS. (WHDH) - Three strangers joined forces for a heroic rescue in Chelsea Friday night, pulling a man from a burning car and saving his life.

Phil Castronova, Joseph Ronchetti, and Daniel Arteaga rushed over to an SUV engulfed in flames Friday evening and found a man trapped inside the car.

“We were trying to pull the door open, pull the door open, we couldn’t get it open,” Castronova said. “We were trying to wake this guy up but he was unresponsive.”

“He was physically lodged in the car, I couldn’t pull him out,” Ronchetti said. “The car was on fire and getting worse.”

Arteaga, a Marine, jumped in the back seat.

“I was trying to pull his seat down but nothing was working,” Arteaga recalled.

Other bystanders were yelling that the car was going to explode, but the men kept working and eventually pulled the victim out of the car, just as first responders arrived.

“I dragged him into the parking lot behind me and we were sitting there holding him,” Castronova said.

Investigators say the driver crashed into a box truck and spun out of control, crashing into a pole before the car burst into flames. Firefighters said the man had serious injuries, but his life was saved by the three men coming together.

“We had some heroic people that pulled him from the car fire during a very intense situation,” said Chelsea Deputy Fire Chief Robert Houghton. “They basically saved him from burning to death.”

The heroes said it was a team effort.

“I would’ve been helpless, it was because of the action of others that we were able to jointly get him out to safety,” Arteaga said.

“I was glad I was there with these guys to be able to get that guy out of the car because it could’ve been a lot worse,” Castronova said.

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