Cootamundra man pries victim from burning single-vehicle crash | video

A Cootamundra man has played a key role in rescuing a driver from a burning car crash on the Olympic Highway over the weekend.

Michael Van Baast was driving between Cootamundra and Wallendbeen when he found himself at the scene of a brutal collision.

“I was coming back from the Wombat Rally and saw a flashing light off in the distance,” Mr Van Baast said.

“As I got closer, I saw it was a car that has smashed into a tree.

Mr Van Baast said the scene didn’t look so dramatic until he realised there was someone inside of the burning wreck.

“I dialed 000 but it didn’t seem as though the firies would get there in time, so I took matters into my own hands,” he said.

The driver was trapped by both legs and it took a herculean effort to get him out safely. 

”The flames were getting bigger and bigger and then I heard a bang from inside the car.

”Eventually I just used brute force and yanked him out onto the ground.”

Another driver stopped at the scene and it wasn’t long before emergency services arrived, relieving the thoroughly exhausted Mr Van Baast.

I had to bend the top of his door down and drag him out over the door while his dashboard was on fire.

Michael Van Baast's recount of the incident on social media

Ambulance media confirmed a call-out to an Olympic Highway location at 1.55am on Sunday morning at which services attended a 25-year-old driver.

“We had received reports of a male driver trapped by his leg and reports of car fire,” the spokesman said.

“The vehicle had reportedly hit a tree.”

The spokesman confirmed Mr Van Baast’s recount of the incident.

“The driver appeared to have a broken leg and facial injuries but no burns.”

The patient was transferred to Wagga then to Sydney and is believed to be in a stable condition.

There were many flashing lights - three fire engines, three or four ambulances, multiple police cars at the scene.


An XPT commuter confirmed the incident and said he observed multiple cars and flashing lights in attendance along the Olympic Highway.

“There were many flashing lights - three fire engines, three or four ambulances, multiple police cars at the scene,” he said.

“The car was completely wrapped around a tree.”