Soldiers hailed as heroes after Franklin County rescue

Men say experience was key in saving crash victim

By Kristina Belcher, Published:

Army veteran James McArter described the scene as chaotic.

“It was panic and organized at the same time, if you can imagine that,” McArter said.

Raymond Burdett of Ontario, Canada, was driving east on Interstate 64 just after 5:30 p.m. Sunday when he allegedly dropped off the left shoulder near mile marker 58, overcorrected and drove off the right side of the highway into a rocky ditch, Sheriff Pat Melton said.

His vehicle flipped several times before bursting into flames.

McArter and his fiancée were driving on the opposite side of I-64 when they saw the crash.

McArter said he didn’t hesitate.

“I didn’t even have time to put my truck in park yet,” he said. “I jumped over the cable barrier.”

Now he and three uniformed Kentucky National Guard soldiers are being hailed as heroes after they worked together to get Burdett out of his vehicle and pull him to safety.

The Kentucky National Guard said in a news release that Sgt. Andrew Mehltretter, Spc. Daniel White and Spc. Kevin Karrer were on their way home after drill weekend when they happened upon the crash.

McArter said the rescue took just minutes.

“I have no idea who he is, but if I was in that situation I would want somebody to help me,” McArter said.

The release from the National Guard said Mehltretter and White are combat medics with the 1163rd Medical Company based in Shelbyville and Karrer is a military policeman with the 617th Military Police Company in Richmond.

McArter said their experience was crucial in getting Burdett out quickly and safely.

“We did what we had to do,” McArter said, denying that he is any kind of hero. “I just did what any other person would do.”

Statements released by McArter’s fellow rescuers show the same humble attitude.

“What we did, we were trained to do,” White said.  ”I don’t know any soldier that wouldn’t have done the same thing.”

“This is second nature for me to do this kind of thing,” said Karrer, who also serves as a volunteer firefighter. “Once we saw the car was on fire our only concern was getting him out alive.”

Burdett was taken to Frankfort Regional Medical Center and later flown to University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center.

He was listed in fair condition Tuesday afternoon.

McArter said this is the third time in the last two years he has happened upon a crash scene and taken action to help a victim.

This time, the entire rescue was caught on video by McArter’s fiancée.

McArter said since the news broke, his Facebook page has been flooded with praise from friends and strangers.

“It’s awesome that they want to recognize me,” McArter said, “but my main priority was that (Burdett) was OK, not myself.”

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  • These soldiers might not be heroes in their eyes but to the gentleman they pulled from the burning car, they most certainly are heroes. They are heroes to everyone that was watching it unfold and to all those reading these stories, they are heroes. So thank you soldier's for serving the United States of America and bringing your training to bear in saving this gentlemans life. You certainly are heroes in the truest sense of the word.