Jim Biggart says his brother Andy might not be alive today if it weren’t for the fishermen who rushed to pull him from his burning car.
“My entire family will never be able to repay the debt to those people for saving Andy’s life,” Jim Biggart told BayNews9.
The Florida Highway Patrol says the 42-year-old man was driving near Spring Hill on Friday when his car slammed into a tree, according to Fox13.
The collision — which was so strong that the car immediately burst into flames — happened outside of the Nature Coast Marina in Hernando Beach. Kathryn Birren, who owns the marina, told the media company Storyful that the fishermen there heard a crash and went outside to look.
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That’s when they saw the car engulfed in flames, Birren said, and realized someone was trapped inside. Birren shared a video with Storyful that shows fishermen working quickly to pry open the mangled car and take Andy Biggart into safety.
Allen Sherrod, who helped save the man, told Fox13 in an interview that people were using fire extinguishers to put out the flames and crowbars to free the man.
“They’re hard-working fishermen. They work offshore. They face danger every day,” Sherrod said, according to Fox13. “They’re 36 inches from death all night long, and so I jumped in with them. We did everything we could.”
Smoke billowed from the burning car as more and more people rush up to help, the video shows. Firefighters arrived past the halfway point of the video — and then Biggart was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition.
A GoFundMe page says that Biggart was at first only known as “Sage Doe” because medical staff at Tampa General Hospital couldn’t identify him. He was identified Saturday, the day after the crash, and his family was notified, the page says.
“He’d been through a 7-hour surgery to save his life and his badly broken right leg,” the GoFundMe page says. “He suffered multiple leg fractures, broken ribs and clavicle, burns on his arms, legs, and hands, and several other injuries. The surgeons considered amputating his right leg but were able to reestablish blood flow.”
After surviving the ordeal, Biggart now faces a long road to recovery, the GoFundMe page says.
“Andy is strong and continues to fight for his life. He is scheduled to undergo numerous surgeries to repair fractures and other injuries,” the page says. “His surgeons say these procedures will go on for months. If all goes well, he will be in rehabilitation for about a year with a chance to heal, recover, and return to something close to the life he knew.”
Birren, who says her daughter-in-law also helped out with a fire extinguisher, told Storyful that the fishermen treated Biggart with an incredible amount of compassion.
“They were telling him he was going to be OK and keeping him calm,” Birren told Storyful. “It was four minutes from the time of the accident until the fire department arrived. They saved his life.”
For his brother Jim, seeing footage of the life-saving rescue “took (his) breath away.” And now, he told BayNews9, his brother’s health is improving.
“He was able to come off the ventilator (Monday), and he’s talking a little bit,” he told the outlet. “He’s his old self. He’s making jokes.”