Three youths save trucker from freeway inferno

| 9/23/2003

Three young men risked their own lives to save a trucker from a burning tanker truck Sept. 16 in Detroit, according to the Detroit Free Press.

About 6:30 p.m., trucker Joel Puz’s tanker flipped over in the northbound lane of I-75 in southwest Detroit. Witnesses say the accident was caused when another truck cut in front of the tanker. Puz knocked out the windshield and crawled out of the burning truck, but his injuries made it difficult to crawl any further.

At the same time, Cedric Redus, Latoris Shepherd and Michael Travis were on their way home from a basketball game when they saw the other truck cut off Puz’s tanker. The three 20-year-old men watched the tanker flip onto its side, slide about 15 feet and catch fire. Redus backed his car up the freeway exit onto the service road and ran to help, jumping a fence to get to the accident scene. They carried Puz on their backs to a grassy area safely away from the tanker.

Moments later, the tanker exploded into a ball of fire that would have engulfed Puz, a 34-year-old father of three, had the three young men not pulled him to safety. Puz was treated for burns and possible broken bones at Detroit Receiving Hospital, according to the newspaper report.

The Free Press reported that the Initial Transportation tanker was carrying 13,400 gallons of gas picked up from a nearby oil refinery.

The three young men told the newspaper they didn’t think twice about helping Puz. Travis said, "If that was your father, wouldn't you want someone to help?"