Vehicle Crashes, Catches Fire

This 1999 Toyota Camry caught fire after it struck a utility pole Sunday morning on Highway BB. Susan J. Griffin, 55, Union, was pulled from the burning vehicle by Darren Schatz, Sullivan. The crash occurred at 6:20 a.m. north of Judith Spring Road. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said Griffin fell asleep and left the road.  

A Union woman was pulled from her burning vehicle Sunday morning after the car she was driving struck a utility pole.

Susan J. Griffin, 55, was driving a 1999 Toyota Camry southbound on Highway BB north of Judith Spring Road at 6:20 a.m. when she fell asleep, left the road and struck a utility pole, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Darren Schatz, Sullivan, was driving northbound on Highway BB and pulled over to help Griffin. He said the rear of the vehicle was on fire.

“I ran to the driver’s side door and yelled into the car,” Schatz said. “The woman inside said, ‘Help me please. I can’t get out.’ It was so full of smoke you couldn’t see anything.”

Schatz, who is 43 and works at Fidelity’s Sullivan warehouse, pulled a metal fence post out of the ground and smashed both front windows before locating the victim on the passenger side. He was able to open the door by reaching through the broken passenger window and pulled Griffin to safety, according to a spokesperson with Fidelity.

“I had just got her off to the side and asked if anyone else was in the car when the highway patrol and then the sheriff (deputy) pulled up,” Schatz said.

Griffin appeared to be in shock, he said. A neighbor used a fire extinguisher to get the fire under control.

Griffin was taken by Union Ambulance to Mercy Hospital Washington. She was wearing a seat belt, the patrol said.

Schatz was with his wife, daughter and three of her friends en route to St. Peters when he saw a fire in the ditch.

After speaking with authorities briefly, Schatz was allowed to continue on his way.

“The adrenaline was going,” Schatz said. “When we stopped in Washington, I got out and walked around a little bit to shake it off.”