A 22-year-old New Castle man is lucky to be alive thanks to the help of nearby homeowner, who heard a crash outside of his home early Monday morning and took action.
Photos of the fiery head-on collision depict the dangers Peter Morelli faced as he tried to pull the driver out of his car. As he tried to pry the door open, Morelli was having a trouble getting the man out because his legs were pinned inside the car, according to Morelli’s wife.
“Once he freed him from the car a few people came from behind him and helped carry him to the ground. At the time he was working on getting him out, he didn’t realize there were other people even there.”
Just after 1:00 am, as the fire raged, rescue crews from the Christiana Fire Company, along with crews from the Delaware City Fire Company, New Castle County Paramedics and Police were dispatched to scene, in the 3800 block of Wrangle Hill Road, for reports of a vehicle on fire with a driver trapped.
While en route to the crash, crews received word from an arriving New Castle County Police Officer that the driver had been pulled from the vehicle.
State Police Public Information Officer, Master Corporal Michael Austin said that a 2006 Mazda 6, operated by the 22-year-old, was traveling DE 72 eastbound and a 2003 Ford Explorer being driven by Felix R. Matias, 32, of Wilmington, was traveling DE 72 westbound. Matias failed to remain in his lane and crossed over into oncoming traffic, with his vehicle striking the front left end of the Mazda, according to Austin.
As Morelli was working to save the man, Matias, along with his passenger, left the scene on foot, according to reports from the scene. County Police on scene, with the help of a bystander, was able to take Matias into custody just west of the crash site. Both Matias and his passenger were reportedly suffering from injuries sustained in the crash.
Matias and his 26-year-old male passenger were both transported to Christiana Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Troopers have charged Felix Matias with multiple criminal and traffic-related offenses. On his arrival to the hospital, he was admitted and is expected to face charges of Vehicular Assault 1st Degree (2 counts), Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Failure to Report a Personal Injury Accident, Leaving the Scene of a Personal Injury Accident, Failure to Remain in Lane, Disregard a Traffic Control Device, Driving without a License, No Proof of Insurance and No Proof of Registration once released.
The driver of the Mazda was transported to the Christiana Hospital where he remains in critical condition.
Worried about the injured man, Morelli asked about his condition. He was told by officials that the man was in critical condition but he had a very good prognosis. ” You definitely saved his life!!!”.