Exmouth man hailed hero for rescue attempt

An Exmouth man has been hailed a hero by firefighters after risking his life, attempting to pull two youths from an upside down car which was in danger of exploding.

Paul McCarthy, of Exeter Road, braved leaking fuel in his attempt pull the 22-year-old driver, and his 17-year-old passenger, both from Exmouth, free after their vehicle flipped over in a smash in the early hours of last Thursday morning.

Firefighters at Exmouth praised Mr McCarthy’s actions, saying he put the two young men’s safety before himself.

Exmouth blue watch manager Chris Pratt said: “It was commendable, without a shadow of a doubt, although we don’t encourage members of the public to put themselves in any situation of danger.

“It was dangerous situation. The car was upside down, it was leaking fuel and there was a lot of fuel around. There was a real risk of the car going up in flames.

“He obviously did his best to pull the lads from a dangerous situation and put himself at risk.

“He wasn’t successful, but potentially had the car gone up in flames it could have been far more serious.”

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Mr McCarthy’s bravery was tested in the early hours of Thursday morning, shortly before 2am, when a vehicle flipped out of control on its way out of Exmouth, hitting the wall of his home and landing on its roof on his drive.

Ignoring any danger, Mr McCarthy, 45, set about freeing the two young men trapped upside down in the wreckage – but he was thwarted in his rescue mission by the crushed car.

Step-son, Dan French, 15, who led the praise for his step-dad’s courage, said he heard the screech of brakes and screaming engine before the car ploughed into the family’s wall.

The Exmouth Community College pupil said one of the men inside the car could be heard screaming after the crash.

“Heroically he tried to get them out but he couldn’t because they were clearly stuck,” said Mr French. “There was petrol dripping all over them.”

Mr McCarthy’s wife, Claire, 42, said: “We didn’t know if they were going to die. The police told us to get back in the house because of the amount of fumes.

“The whole house smelled of petrol, the whole place could have gone up. I was quite scared.”

The police said two young men were cut from the car by firefighters and taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital by ambulance.

There they were treated for minor injuries including fuel in the eyes.

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