The quick reaction of one man involved in a fiery three-vehicle crash Monday afternoon in Columbia may have saved a young child’s life.
“My adrenaline was pumping pretty hard,” local hero Eric Done admitted afterward.
Police said a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Scott Kirkley, 33, of Columbia, was turning left onto North Main Street from southbound Route 3 shortly after 3 p.m. when it collided with a 2008 GMC Savana van driven by Sarah Willson, 45, of Waterloo, which was traveling north on Route 3 and carrying three young passengers.
The Silverado spun out upon impact and crashed into a 2010 Chevy Equinox driven by Natasha Done, 28, of Hecker, which was stopped at the light on North Main and carrying two young children inside.
The van caught fire shortly after impact, but fortunately a passenger in the Equinox, Eric Done, 31, of Hecker, rushed over to help remove two young girls and pull a young child strapped in a car seat from the van before flames engulfed the vehicle.
“He definitely performed a good deed to help out in this instance,” Columbia Police Chief Jerry Paul said.
Willson and all three passengers in the van were transported to St. Anthony’s Medical Center in St. Louis County, but injuries were believed minor.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, Paul said.
The Columbia Fire Department extinguished the burning van, the smoke from which could be seen from a distance as emergency personnel rushed to the scene.
Eric Done said that as soon as the wreck happened, he noticed the van starting to smoke and could see flames starting to build under the hood.
“That’s what made me run over there,” he said.
Eric first talked to two young girls inside the van and told them to get out right away.
“They were pretty startled. And then one of the girls said, ‘Where’s the baby?'” Eric told the Republic-Times. “That’s when I went back in the van and started pulling on the car seat really hard. I was able to pull the seat belt away, grab the pumpkin seat and return the baby to the mother.”
Eric said he had dealt with car seats plenty of times since he has children of his own.
“The baby stayed asleep the whole time,” he added.
“It was tense,” Natasha Done recalled of the situation. “I was in our vehicle trying to calm our kids (ages 2 and 6) when I glanced over and noticed the van starting to go up in flames. Not too soon after, I saw Eric emerge with the baby’s car seat in his hands. I cannot even express how proud I am of my husband for his selfless act.
“I believe God put us there for a reason, and that Eric was this baby’s guardian angel.”