NORTH BERGEN, N.J. — A man in New Jersey who was involved in a fiery highway crash that took the life of one driver and left another in critical condition is counting his blessings that he came out of the incident alive.
“I don’t know that to think,” Mario Quiroz, 53, told CBS News through the interpretation of his daughter, Jennifer. “I just think that God gave me another chance to live.”
On Saturday, 24-year-old James Pinaire drove into the path of a fuel tanker on a highway in Union, and then crashed into the mulch truck being driven by Quiroz. The fuel tanker, carrying 9,000 gallons of gas, also struck Quiroz’ truck as well. The result was a substantial fireball that blazed in the midst of the wreckage in the middle of the highway.
“I thought I was going to die,” Quiroz said.
Pinaire was pronounced dead on the scene, and the driver of the fuel tanker, 35-year-old Balwinder Singh, was taken to Robert Wood Johnson Community hospital in critical condition.
Quiroz was initially trapped inside of his vehicle while the flames surrounded him, but was able to climb out his window although it would only roll halfway down. He emerged with only a small cut and was released after being checked out at the hospital for internal injuries.
“When I look at the video, I think, … my dad had an angel over him,” Quiroz’ daughter stated. “God gave him another chance to live. … He feels blessed.”
The story is reminiscent of a situation reported last December, as Iowa day care worker Tara Dekkers, 36, noted that the van she was driving with all seven children on board caught on fire due to mechanical issues.
“After I ran around the front of the van to open the door to the side to get the kids out, I saw flames,” Dekkers told the Quad City Times. “I just moved as fast I could to get everyone out.”
As some of the children were having difficulty unbuckling their seat belts, she helped them out and instructed them to run toward the ditch.
An unidentified man, who is simply being recognized as a Good Samaritan, saw the vehicle in flames and pulled over to help. He placed the children in his truck so that they could stay safe and warm. Moments after Dekkers rescued all the children from the van, it became completely engulfed in flames.
The day care worker gave the credit to God for giving her the wisdom and strength to the handle the frightening ordeal.
“He was the one who was with me,” she told reporters. “He was the one who made it all possible for me to get them all out.”
“I think that I did what anyone would do in that situation,” Dekkers added, “and I just praise God that he gave me the clarity and the quickness to get them all out before the van went up in flames.”