Man Rescues Baby From Fiery Maryland Church Van Crash

When a pickup truck slammed into a church van and sparked a deadly fire, a good Samaritan leaped into action to pull children and adults from the blaze.

Michael Tymas told News4 he had to help when he saw people in need, even if he had to put his own life in danger.

"I seen people in trouble and my instincts just told me to get out and help," he said.

The crash in Hyattsville, Maryland killed four people and injured a total of 14 people who attended Iglesia Ministerio de Dios Unido.

Tymas, a school bus driver who lives in Northeast D.C., was in a car with his wife when they came upon the crash scene Sunday evening.

"We were going down the hill and I seen the passenger side of the van," he said. "I seen fire, a lot of fire."

He ran toward the flames while his wife called 911. Police released her 911 call on Wednesday.

"Oh my God, it's little babies," she tells the dispatcher.

"What's going on?" he asks.

"It's babies. It's a whole van full of kids," she says, her voice quavering. "My husband is helping pull these babies out."

Tymas used a pocketknife to cut the seat belts passengers were wearing, he said. He said he was shocked when he saw an infant.

"I got to get this baby out," he said he thought at the time. "I actually thought the van was going to explode."

He handed the baby to his wife, who is shown on cell phone video cradling the child. Tymas also appears in the video, running back to the fiery van to help more people.

Other men took turns using the pocketknife to free other passengers.

"There were a few that were already dead," he said.

The crash killed Santiago Merche, 75, and Elba Linares, 73, of Northwest D.C. Staily Gomez, 6, also of Northwest D.C. died. A woman who was pregnant was injured; doctors were unable to save her baby.

The driver of the pickup truck who police say caused the crash also was killed, Medardo Flores, 30, of Chillum, Maryland. Flores hit a car and then fled the scene of that crash, police say. Moments later, he lost control of the truck, crossed into the opposite lane of traffic and slammed into the church van. The truck then burst into flames -- trapping, injuring and killing passengers.

Tymas said he wished he could have saved every victim of the crash, and asked others to chip in when they can.

"You see someone in trouble, if you can assist, help," he said.

Contact Us