McNally helped deliver her son who arrived before doctors could get there
Jeffrey Denman’s semitrailer hit a guardrail on an on-ramp from Interstate 465 to I-70 in Indianapolis, splitting the tanker in half. The truck then overturned and two back-to-back explosions sent fire and jet fuel all over the highway. Firefighters at the scene referred to it as a double “fire wall” on either side of a bridge, NBC News reported. McNally saw the man, who was on fire, running from the blaze.
“I stopped, and I see a lot of other people stopping too, and they’re taping and watching, but nobody was doing anything,” McNally said, who was driving in the car with her mom from the hospital. “I said, ‘I can’t sit here and watch this man run around and maybe perish in front of me,’ so I took off running.”
Another witness, Mitch Navarre, reached the victim moments before and used his coat to put the flames out, according to a statement from the Indianapolis Fire Department. The statement also said Denman was in shock, and Navarre couldn’t get him away from the truck until the explosion which “forced the men to make a rapid retreat.” Seconds after McNally reached the two men, the tanker erupted again. “We could feel the heat on our back,” McNally said.
“It was getting up there, getting him put out and finding out what was running down my shoes,” McNally said. “I asked him, ‘What’s your name?’, and he said ‘Jeffrey.’ And I said, ‘Jeffrey, what were you hauling, what’s rushing past us?’ And he said: ‘Jet fuel,'” she continued. “My mom’s like, ‘I’ve never seen you run that fast in 35 years of your life.’ Like it was 26 degrees, I had no coat on, and I’m hauling butt to this man to put him out and get him.”
The new mom said she knew the three had to move away from the tanker or risk getting set on fire. “I said, ‘I’ve got a baby I’ve got to make it home to, and you probably have a family too, so we have got to go Jeff.’ I was thinking in my head, ‘I’ve got to get to my baby, but I’ve got to save him,'” McNally said. “I could have not seen my baby again, you know, he would have never known me.” But, “it would have been OK going down saving somebody.”
McNally’s son, Connor, is her third child whom she helped deliver after laboring just 26 minutes before the baby arrived ahead of doctors. He’s been in the NICU since under observation.
“I had just left my baby that I got to bring into this world, and I didn’t want to see a life go out of this world,” McNally said.
Denman remained hospitalized in critical condition on Friday, fire officials said.