Students rush to help at fiery crash on Rte 95
Hendricken students John Cute and Lee Moses didn’t think twice about pulling over on I-95 to help two people involved in a fiery car crash last Tuesday.
“We helped people that were in need,” said Cute. “We just did something that we hope anyone else would have done.”
Cute, a senior at Hendricken from East Providence, was driving his track teammate Moses, a junior, home to Providence after track practice on Tuesday during rush hour. He was on the phone with his mom, telling her the good news about accepting a national letter of intent to go to Assumption College for track in the fall, when Moses got his attention. Moses had just seen the flames coming from two cars involved in an accident. One car had rear-ended the other in the high speed lane of I-95 North, near Roger Williams Park Zoo.
“The fire had just started. You don’t just see a car catch on fire. It was just crazy,” recalled Moses.
That was when Cute, who was driving in the slow speed lane, began to pull over.
“Lee was like, ‘hat are you doing,’ and I said we’ve got to help,” said Cute.
Moses was shocked at first, but quickly agreed with his friend.
“Once he started pulling the car over, I was thinking why is he stopping. You don’t usually stop on this kind of highway,” said Moses. “Once he said we were going to help, I was okay with it.”
Cute pulled over in the slow speed lane, and the boys, who are also on the football team together, crossed four lanes of fast moving traffic on I-95 to help the older woman, who was holding a small dog, and a younger male who had gotten out of the cars but were standing very close to the flames. Cute recalled other drivers just driving by, while Moses even saw drivers taking pictures of the accident.
“The fire was kind of going over them. I think they were in shock. They didn’t know what to think,” said Cute.
Together, the boys made sure the people involved were a safe distance from the car, kept them calm, and checked that no one else was involved.
“I felt really bad for the people,” said Moses. “Once you’re in an accident, it’s scary.”
A woman in a mini-van showed up a few minutes later, offering to help get the group to Cute’s car on the other side of the highway. Moses stayed with the people at Cute’s car, but Cute crossed the highway again, to double check that no one else was in the car. An off-duty firefighter and a state trooper soon joined him, followed by police and rescue. He recalled feeling the heat from the fire and the windows and debris blowing out.
“We were just trying to move traffic,” said Cute about assisting the volunteer firefighter with keeping the scene of the accident clear. They feared the fire could become more intense.
Cute said the people involved in the accident, whose names they never learned, and police were thankful they took action and made sure everyone was all right.
“We just wanted to help. At the end of the day, we just wanted to stop and help. No one was there,” said Cute, who hopes to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard. His brother serves in the Coast Guard Reserves, and his father is a U.S. Marshal at the Federal Court House.
Both boys said they never really thought twice about helping, saying what they have learned at Hendricken about teamwork and helping one another probably contributed to the decision. Although Cute joked they probably should have thought twice about running across Route 95. Moses just hopes those involved in the accident are all right.
“All they kept saying was thank you,” he said. “I wish we got to know their names and know if they’re okay.”
Michelle King of Hendricken said it was not surprising at all that Cute and Moses did something like this.
“They’re both just wonderful guys,” said King. “Now they’re heroes on and off the field.”
Hendricken President John Jackson feels the same. “Both Lee and John are good students, accomplished athletes, but more importantly, they are just really great guys,” said Jackson. “None of us are surprised they did it. They wouldn’t think not to.”