The Brothers Ken and Daniel Hechtman, owners of the kosher Ken’s Diner in Skokie, Illinois, helped save several people from a fiery wreck in suburban Chicago.
Illinois State Police said the accident happened around 9:10 p.m., when a truck going north near Northbrook hit a car when merging from the right into a center lane. The truck then veered sharply to the right, striking a second car before losing control and smashing into a wall on the left shoulder of the highway.
Without thinking, Ken Hechtman, 60, who was driving a short distance behind, stopped his car and the two brothers ran to opposite ends of the truck. They said they felt the intense heat and saw the dark smoke turning thicker. They also heard the truck explode twice, Ken Hechtman said in an interview.
Daniel Hechtman, 54, ran toward the front of the semi and helped pull a passenger out of the fiery compartment. He carried the passenger’s limp body to the side of the road. The man started shaking, as if he was having spasms, Daniel Hechtman said.
Meanwhile, the elder Hechtman ran to the back of the truck, to stop the oncoming traffic. That’s when he heard voices calling for help from underneath the truck.
He saw a car stuck there, with a woman and young girl lying next to the vehicle. The woman’s hair and the girl’s back were on fire, Ken Hechtman said.
He managed to grab the two away, he said. He actually carried the little girl across the expressway as cars whizzed by.
“I heard the screaming and there was nothing else in my mind (but) to run toward the voices,” Ken Hechtman told the Chicago Tribune. “There was no time to think. It’s adrenaline. It’s all adrenaline.”
Ken Hechtman said he doesn’t consider himself a hero and that everything happened so fast, his reactions were automatic. Sounds heroic to me
“Everyone keeps talking about ‘Hero, hero, hero,’” he told the Tribune. “Now that I think about it, it was stupid. Who runs toward a flaming truck that’s exploding?”
Content from Chicago tribune, chicagoareafire.com and JTA was used in this report.