YANKEE SPRINGS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - A car crash that resulted in a vehicle fire sent one teenage girl to a hospital with serious burns.
Authorities said an SUV was traveling north on M-37 near Shaw Lake Road in Yankee Springs Township around 1 p.m. Sunday. When its driver slowed to make a left-hand turn, a silver truck struck the SUV from behind, police said.
The SUV then caught fire.
Jim Barnes -- who lives near the scene -- heard the crash and then saw the flames. He and other onlookers quickly noticed there was still a passenger in the back seat.
"We just see everyone saying, 'There's another girl inside, there's another girl inside.' And then I see my stepdad run over there into the smoke and I was worried about that," said Barnes' stepdaughter Kayla Pouliot.
"It was terrifying thinking you were going to have to watch a teenage girl burn to death," said Barnes. "You know there's a point where you gotta back away, but you don't want to."
Barnes and other witnesses pulled that victim out of the SUV and took her to a neighbor's yard.
Then Pouliot recognized the victim as Jessica Eckhoff who Pouliot is classmates with at Thornapple Kellogg High School.
"It really does break every piece of my body to know that that's someone that I know," said Pouliot.
Eckhoff was soon airlifted to a hospital and listed in fair condition on Sunday evening.
Barnes said anyone would have done what he did.
"It was just something that had to be done. There were a bunch of people that were all helping," he said.
"He might not think he's a hero, and he's probably just going to push it off, but to us he is a hero," said Pouliot. "He's always been my hero, but what he did today to save someone I know, it made him even more of a hero in my eyes."
There were three teen females -- all sophomores at Thornapple Kellogg High School -- inside the SUV. The other two teens were not seriously injured.
There were two people in the truck, including the 70-year-old male driver. They were taken to a Hastings hospital for treatment.
M-37 was closed between Shaw Lake Road and Yankee Springs Road for several hours as crews cleaned up the scene. It reopened around 5:15 p.m.
Police are investigating a report of a home invasion, but say there are inconsistencies.
A Kalamazoo County sheriff's deputy will not face criminal sexual conduct charges.
A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday night for an innocent bystander who was shot and killed in October.