By Jesse Major, Peninsula Daily News
A U.S. baseball team have a new fan after they rescued a B.C. woman from her burning car on their way to play against the Kelowna Falcons.
Port Angeles Lefties Coach Darren Westergard was driving ahead of the team bus east of Chilliwack Tuesday, when he and catcher Evan Pace spotted the smoking Subaru Forester in a ditch on the side of the Highway 1.
He said he slammed on the brakes — waking players sleeping in the back — and the team jumped into action, pulling Linda Jack, 67, of Kelowna out of her vehicle before it burst into flames.
“The guys got thrown around the car and woke up real quick,” Westergard said. “It was cool to see everyone get after it, helping her get out of the car and up the embankment.”
Pace said the smoke from Jack’s vehicle was thick and that without help from others on the team they wouldn’t not have been able to remove her belongings before the car caught fire.
“They were all grabbing her stuff to try to save all her possessions because we knew that car was about to go,” the Louisiana native said.
He described thick smoke and said it was difficult to see into the vehicle. Not long after they helped her out of the vehicle, the car became fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters blocked the highway upon arrival, he said.
The team had taken a couple wrong turns along the way and had they been on schedule, they wouldn’t have been there to help.
“It was impeccable timing,” Pace said. “It’s funny the way God works in that we were able to be there at the right time.”
Jack, reached by phone Thursday, said she doesn’t know how she lost control of her vehicle, but she is thankful the Lefties were there to help.
She was driving to her Kelowna home from Vancouver when the wreck happened. She suffered a broken hand and a cracked sternum.
“I’m feeling much better,” she said. “It’s just quite a shock when you crash like that. You never expect something like that.”
After paramedics examined Jack at the scene, Westergard offered her a ride to her home, which was in the same city the Lefties would play in later that night.
“They gave me a ride right to my door and they were just lovely,” she said, adding that the ride home was fun. “They were singing along to the country and western music and having a grand old time. They’re just nice kids.”
Lefties owner Matt Acker said Thursday he is proud of the team and coaching staff and that he believes any other team in the West Coast League would have done the same thing.
“I’m proud of the guys for doing it,” he said. “I’m glad our guys were there and I’m glad she’s OK. I’m proud of Darren, our coaching staff and our players.”
Jack said she used to attend the Falcons games regularly with her husband before he died five years ago, but is now rooting for the Port Angeles Lefties.
Jack said she was disappointed to learn that the Lefties lost their game against the Falcons 6-2 that night, but she hoped to see them defeat her home team during their last game of the series Thursday.
“I told them when they left I hope they win,” she said.