‘Those are human lives’: Students who assisted in March car crash detail personal accounts


Michael Crimmins, Investigative Reporter

Two WKU students pulled the passenger and driver from a burning vehicle in a March car accident that closed Avenue of Champions for several hours. According to BGPD, the passenger and the driver were flown to a trauma center in Nashville.

WKU freshman Jake Hester and “several other bystanders” were the ones who pulled the occupants from the car, according to Ronnie Ward, public information officer for Bowling Green Police.

Hester and some friends had gone out for a drive when they heard the accident.

“We hear a screeching, obviously a car wreck sound, and we look out the window and all we can see is an orange glow,” Hester said. “We saw the orange glow of the fire and we realized what it was so we all ran over there.”

The accident involved a 2016 BMW that hit a pole. Hester said he and his friend proceeded to pull what they thought were dead bodies from the car.

“We didn’t know if they were alive or not in the car and so a friend of mine and I pulled the driver out and another guy, Andrew Hayden, pulled the passenger out,” Hester said.

Hester and his friends feared the car might explode, so they “dragged them as fast as possible” away from the wreckage. Hester remembers the driver was unconscious at the time.

“We dragged him pretty far and we were trying to see if alive or not, and pretty quickly after [that] the police got there,” Hester said. “I started talking to the officer […] then the fire started to spread further and [the car] started to make this sound and we thought it might blow, so the officer and I pulled the driver further away.”

Once he saw the “people who knew what they were doing” were there, he and his friends returned to their dorms.

Helping those in the car was something Hester said “he had to do” — it “wasn’t a choice” for him.

“I wouldn’t want any of my friends to be in that situation, let alone family, or myself,” Hester said. “So, [I was] thinking about other people in that same situation having a friend there.”

Hester found out later that according to a friend he was closer to the passenger than he thought.

“The passenger, so I’ve heard, is friends with one of my friends from my hometown,” Hester said. “Our families go to church together.” 

Hester’s feeling of responsibility is shared by Hayden, who pulled the passenger from the vehicle despite the flames.

“Those are human lives,” Hayden said. “Whether it was the smartest thing to do, I think it was the moral thing to do.”

Andrew Hayden is a freshman at WKU majoring in business economics currently. He is also an active member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

After studying, Hayden and some friends were hanging out in Creason Lot, past Pearce-Ford Tower, when they heard the sound of tires screeching. Originally, they thought it was just someone doing a burnout as it was very early in the morning.

“We hear like a tumbling on, and then a big boom, and that’s when we turn around and we just see that pole go[ing] down,” Hayden said. “We’re like, ‘that’s not supposed to happen.’ So we start going over towards it and see smoke.”

When Hayden gets to the car he describes it as “beat to crap” and said that there were already people around the flaming car. Many of the people around the vehicle were on phones calling the police and the ambulance, Hayden said.

That’s when Hayden said he heard the word “help” coming from the passenger side. Hayden remembers that the driver was not speaking, but he recalls hearing that.

“I probably wouldn’t have gone up to [the car] if I didn’t hear it,” Hayden said. “I was like ‘if I don’t try then I feel like that would be on my conscience.’”

Hester was already helping the driver, so Hayden went to the passenger side where he said the passenger wasn’t able to move. Hayden remembers unbuckling the seatbelt while the car was on fire.

BGPD then arrived to the scene. Hayden said he was so shaken after the fact that he let Hester do most of the talking to officers. Hayden said he wasn’t afraid for himself during the situation because his adrenaline was pumping so heavily at that point.

The Herald attempted to obtain the police report to corroborate their accounts, but was unable to since the investigation is ongoing.

“The case is still under investigation. I believe they are waiting on some subpoenas to be answered,” Ward said in an email.

Investigative Reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @michael_crimm