A pat on the back is due to Eric Done for his act of bravery during a fiery crash April 17 on the north end of Columbia. After witnessing an accident, Done got out of his vehicle, raced to a burning van and was able to quickly remove a newborn baby from its car seat. Done then carried the child to a safe location before handing the baby back into the arms of its mother.
There were no serious injuries to those in the three vehicles involved.
Just after 3 p.m., a pickup truck slammed into a van at the intersection of Rt. 3 and North Main. The truck then spun around and collided with a Chevy Equinox. According to the police report, Scott Kirkley, 34, of Waterloo, was driving a 2012 Chevy Silverado southbound on Rt. 3 approaching Columbia. When he got to the first stoplight, Kirkley attempted to turn left to get onto North Main Street. Kirkley pulled into the path of a van driving northbound on Rt. 3. The van was driven by Sarah Willson, 46, of Waterloo. In her vehicle were three children, two young daughters and a week-old newborn.
The passenger side of Kirkley’s truck collided with the front of Willson’s van. The impact caused the truck to spin into a Chevy Equinox driven by Natasha Done, 29, of Hecker. Inside Done’s vehicle were her husband, Eric and their two children.
Soon after the collision, the van's motor burst into flames. Without a moment’s hesitation, Eric ran toward the burning van. The mom, Sarah Willson, and two of her young daughters were still reeling from the shock of the impact and a van filling up with smoke. Eric coaxed everyone to hurry up, unfasten their seatbelts and exit the van. Eric was then told there was a baby still inside the van. Without hesitation he opened a side door and began to get her newborn out of its car seat. At this time Eric noticed the van had filled up with smoke and their was flames shooting out of the motor. After unhooking the safety straps, he picked up the baby and carried the child to safety.
The newborn was soon back in its mother’s arms.
The Columbia Volunteer Fire Department rolled up and firefighters had the engine fire knocked out in minutes. Paramedics from the Columbia Ambulance Service checked on the condition of all those involved in the accident. None of the injuries were considered serious. Members of the Willson family were transported by ambulance to St. Anthony’s Medical Center as a precaution. Everyone checked out fine and they were home that evening.
The Columbia Police Department is continuing to investigate the cause of the accident, and also to determine which driver had the green light to proceed through the intersection.
Route 3 was tied up for about 45 minutes during the accident.