"The worst thing I've seen was the fiery accident on Easter Sunday. That was the worst," says Philo volunteer firefighter Patrick Flynn.
Flynn is now trying to make cars safer because of this accident. He's taking on car manufacturers and asking them to add two simple items which can help rescuers get in or victims get out.
It's the first time Patrick Flynn has ever done something like this; going from place to place asking for help. However, not being able to help three people trapped inside a burning car shocked Flynn out of his comfort zone.
"My wife, son and two nephews were coming back from Easter dinner in Champaign. I jumped out of the car and I asked if the people called 911. They said, 'Yes.' Adrenaline went through the roof. I went to the Jeep tried to open the passenger door, and the fire had spread rapidly. And we couldn't do anymore," says Flynn
The Philo volunteer firefighter has 12 years under his belt. He knew just what to do, but as a civilian, he didn't have the tools.
"Kneeling down holding the driver's hand, listening to the wife scream and then silence because flames engulfed the vehicle. The gentleman basically told us that he would much rather be put in the vehicle to die with his family. It tears a guy up inside," says Flynn.
That's why he's trying to get a fire extinguisher and a window hammer with a belt cutter to come with every new vehicle.
"We believe, if the vehicles had fire extinguishers in the cars, the family would be here to this day," says Flynn.
His wife gave him the idea and any naysayers shouldn't even bother.
"There's a lot of things people say will never happen and it's happened, like talking on the cellphone in the car, and texting. Can't do those things anymore. We have a law for that," says Flynn.
He's been going around to police, fire and emergency departments, asking them to sign a petition he plans to send to Congress. Within minutes of hearing Flynn's pitch, Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh was pretty much sold.
"At first blush, I'm going to think about it, but initially I think it would certainly help save some lives. It does not sound like it would be very expensive," says Walsh.
Together the tools cost about $60. Flynn hopes to show lawmakers and people in all 50 states that it's just a small price to pay.
"The county has to come together to get something like this done," says Flynn.
Flynn says, until he gets it done, everybody should go out and buy these things. This crash made such an impact on Flynn's family, his teenage son who was with him that day, went online and ordered them for each of their family cars.
Flynn is collecting signatures. He plans to send those with a letter in the mail to Congress. There's also an online petition. It needs 100,000 signatures to just get a response. The deadline is June 11.
Flynn asks you to print out the petition form, circulate it and mail it to him.
111 W. Van Buren Street
Philo, IL 61864
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