FALLBROOK, Calif. (KGTV) - A grateful family is speaking out after a Camp Pendleton Marine helped save their trapped baby as flames engulfed their car.
Two Mondays ago, Tony Hurley, his wife and 1-year-old daughter were in their car on East Mission Road, on their way to a relative's home, around 5 p.m. Hurley says a gas can fell off a truck in front of him. Fire officials say it became wedged under the engine, leading to sparks as it dragged on the road.
"Almost like a firework going off ... As we pulled over, the car is already on fire. Flames were surrounding the perimeter of car," said Hurley.
A frantic Hurley, along with his wife, got out and went to the back seat to get their daughter, but he says the latching mechanism for the car seat base was stuck.
"That's when I look up, and I'm face to face with a Marine on the other side of the car," said Hurley.
That Marine was Gunnery Sergeant Kyle Wetter, who just happened to be driving by.
"At that point is when I used my pocketknife to cut the car seat belt that was holding the baby's seat int the car, so the dad could get the car seat out," said Wetter in a video interview released by the Marine Corps.
As the family scrambled to safety, Wetter grabbed their belongings out of the car before also getting to safety. About a minute later, three different explosions rocked the car. After a few more minutes, flames had consumed the car.
"I don’t even want to imagine what could have happened if he hadn’t been on scene," said Hurley.
Hurley says the Marine's efforts ended with the best Christmas gift ever: his family was alive and well.
"He's definitely a hero in my book, and I'm more than grateful," said Hurley.
"It's what I expect any person to do in that moment, is to help someone in need. I don't think I'm special by no means. I was just the person behind them that decided to help," said Wetter.
Wetter credits his Marine Corps training, which has taught him how to react to fast-developing situations.
A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help the Hurley family with the purchase of a new car.