Bravery is praised after rescue from burning car outside Newtownards on Saturday

The aftermath of the crash on the Portaferry Road on Saturday morning
The aftermath of the crash on the Portaferry Road on Saturday morning

A man who rescued an unconscious crash victim from a burning car has said he doesn’t see himself as a “hero” after his life-saving efforts were praised by police.

William McMullen, a father-of-two from Rathfriland in Co Down, pulled a man “slumped across the console” of a Renault Clio to safety after the car burst into flames following a collision with a van on Saturday morning.

The crash happened on the Portaferry Road outside Newtonards at around 8am.

Mr McMullen, a motorsports fan who was on his way to a race meeting at Kirkistown when he came across the scene of the crash, told the Sunday Life his training with St John’s Ambulance “kicked in”.

“I don’t see myself as a hero, I just did what I could,” he added.

Mr McMullen continued: “The young fella in the Clio was slumped across the Console. He was unconscious. I’d say the young fella was in his late teens or early 20s.”

With the flames increasing, he managed to pull the young man to safety.

“There were two women home helps who stopped, and a taxi driver, and between us we lifted him to the pavement, well away from the car,” he said.

“The taxi driver tried to put out the flames with his extinguisher but wasn’t able to. By the time the fire brigade arrived, the Clio was burnt out.

“We tried to revive the young lad but he was drifting in and out of consciousness. He did manage to say his name.”

His actions were praised by the PSNI.

An officer paid tribute to him on the PSNI Ards Facebook page, writing: “I shook the hand of a very brave man today. I know we often say that people could have saved lives but the gentleman concerned today really stepped up to the mark.

“Seconds after this collision the car burst into flames with the unconscious driver still inside. Risking his own safety the gentleman managed to pull him free of the car and to safety.”

The officer also thanked others who stopped to help, as well as the fire service and paramedics.

Mr McMullen added: “I don’t see myself as a hero. I just did what I could.”