Every time Travis County area resident Jonathan McCabe passes by a fellow motorist in distress, habit guides him to pull over and help out in any way he can.
That was the action McCabe took when he saw a vehicle that had rolled over in a ditch along Hamilton Pool Road near the Bee Cave area Feb. 6.
What began as a check on an accident victim, however, rapidly turned into a life-or-death situation.
Through the quick wits of McCabe and fellow motorist Tyler Lawing, a Dripping Springs area man was able to escape his wrecked vehicle just before it burst into flames.
McCabe, who said saving the man was “100 percent a team effort,” believed he was just doing what he always has done – helping others.
“I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t do the same thing I did,” McCabe said. “It was no different for me from the day before.”
The ordeal began around 1:28 a.m. Feb. 6. According to Bee Cave Police, a vehicle driven by an unidentified Dripping Springs man was traveling along Hamilton Pool Road in Travis County when, for unknown reasons, the car drifted off the road and rolled over into a ditch.
McCable, who was driving home from work, noticed a vehicle that was tipped over on its side in the ditch with no lights on.
He quickly pulled over and ran over to the vehicle to check on the driver, who was already talking with 911 dispatchers, McCabe said.
It was at that point McCabe realized the victim was struggling to free himself from the seat; the driver was unable to get his seatbelt undone.
Soon, Lawing arrived on scene and offered his assistance. Lawing used a pocketknife to cut the man free from his seatbelt, so he could better move about the vehicle.
Right around that time, however, one of the car’s tires began to flame.
“We saw the car was catching on fire, so we all started to act a little quicker,” McCabe said.
At first, the group thought about having the man use a tire iron within his reach to break through a front window. As the fire began to grow, McCabe said he needed to “change the situation.”
He soon jumped into his four-wheel drive truck and backed it up to nudge the man’s car right-side-up. Lawing joined in and together they used their vehicles to push the car back onto its wheels.
Both McCabe and Lawing went to the car, where the man quickly climbed out of a back window that had broken during the crash. The duo helped guide the man away from the vehicle.
Seconds later, flames overtook the car. The timing of getting the man out of the car “couldn’t have worked out any better,” McCabe said.
“It was like something you see in the movies,” McCabe said.
Since then, McCabe and Lawing have been lauded as heroes. McCabe recently talked with the victim, who was not hurt after the accident. Many friends, family, and even a few strangers on Facebook, extolled their efforts to save the man.
It was all something McCabe felt was just part of the human condition – to help others in a time of need.
“It was 100 percent a team effort. I couldn’t have done it without him (Tyler) and he couldn’t have done it without me.”