Man rescued from burning car: ‘It’s a miracle to be alive’

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. – Joel Metz says it’s a miracle he’s alive.

“Thank you, thank you to everyone at the scene or else I wouldn’t be able to enjoy Christmas with my son,” Metz said on Christmas Day.

Cell phone video captured Metz’ car engulfed in flames after he lost consciousness at the wheel and crashed into a tree at the corner of Old 41 and Bayshore Road on Tuesday.

“I remember trying to untangle my wallet and then everything’s on fire,” Metz said.

Metz is diabetic and occasionally passes out if he doesn’t have enough sugar. He says he was driving down Old 41 when a can of soda fell between his feet. He bent down to get it, but fainted when he quickly came back up.

Metz said two bystanders, Donna Zelter and Andrew Ballard, helped pull him from his car seconds before it erupted in flames.

“There’s no way I can ever rethank Andrew. And Donna,” he said. “Without them there I mean, there were people at the scene saying leave me in the car.”

Ballard decided to do the opposite.

“I ran to the vehicle and I noticed he wasn’t responsive so I smashed the window out… pulled him out, took him out,” he said. “Either we take him out or the kid’s gonna burn… it’s how I was raised, help one another.”

Metz suffered a broken leg, deep cuts and internal injuries. He spent three days in the hospital but was released on Christmas Eve – just in time to spend Christmas with his son.

Because he now has no car, Metz lost his delivery job. With no health insurance, his bills are piling up.

If you want to help Metz, you can donate to his GoFundMe page.

Photographer:Nick Lunemann
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