- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 13, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah motorcyclist who was pinned under a burning car after a collision expressed his gratitude Tuesday for the help of strangers who lifted the vehicle to rescue him.

“I’m just very thankful for everyone that helped me out,” Brandon Wright told the Associated Press by telephone from his hospital bed. “They saved my life.”

Authorities said Mr. Wright was riding his motorcycle Monday on U.S. 89 near the Utah State University campus in Logan when the 21-year-old collided with a black BMW that was pulling out of a parking lot.

Tire and skid marks on the highway indicate that Mr. Wright laid the bike down and slid along the road before colliding with the car, Assistant police Chief Jeff Curtis said.

The bike hit the car’s hood and bounced to the ground, while Mr. Wright slid under the car and both vehicles then burst into flames, Assistant Chief Curtis said. Mr. Wright was trapped beneath the burning car.

A group of about 10 men and women rushed to help, tilting the car up to free him and pull him to safety.

“Every one of those people put their lives in danger,” Assistant Chief Curtis said. “Those people are heroes. You can only speculate what the outcome would have been if they had lifted that car and waited for the emergency service personnel to get up there.”

Construction workers from a campus building project also grabbed fire extinguishers to try to put out the flames.

Chris Garff, a media production specialist for the university, caught the rescue on video. Mr. Garff, 31, was on the ninth floor of a university building shooting a promotional video for the school when he looked out the window and saw black smoke billowing from the road.

“I turned the camera toward it and started to record,” said Mr. Garff, adding that Mr. Wright’s motorcycle was engulfed in flames. “It was a remarkable thing to see 10 to 12 people lift that car and pull him out.”

Mr. Wright was taken to a hospital in critical condition, Assistant Chief Curtis said.

The driver of the BMW, whom Assistant Chief Curtis said was among the group that helped lift the car, suffered only minor injuries. He has been identified as John Johnson, the head of USU’s Department of Management Information Systems in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.

Mr. Johnson did not respond to email and phone messages from the AP on Tuesday.

Assistant Chief Curtis said he didn’t know whether any citations would be issued or charges filed.

Associated Press writer Brian Skoloff contributed to this report.

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