KEY POINTS

  • Holly McNally said she was driving home from visiting her newborn son with her mother when they saw the explosion and fire
  • The tanker reportedly overturned and split in half after hitting a guard rail while getting onto an Indiana interstate
  • McNally reportedly helped another witness in saving the truck driver, who was reportedly on fire running and away from the explosion

A truck driver was in critical condition Friday at an Indiana hospital after being rescued from a tanker truck fire by a mother who had given birth three days earlier.

Holly McNally, 35, was one of the people who help save a truck driver after the tanker he was driving exploded. She said she was driving home from visiting her newborn son, Connor, when she saw a man who was on fire running around the scene of the explosion.

The tanker hit a guard rail while going from Interstate 35 to the I-70 near Indianapolis. It overturnedand reportedly split in half, triggering two explosions. Firefighters said the tanker was carrying about 4,000 gallons of jet fuel and created double “fire walls” on both sides of the road.

“I stopped, and I see a lot of other people stopping too, and they're taping and watching, but nobody was doing anything,” said McNally who  told reporters she had given birth on Monday and her son was being cared for at a neonatal intensive care unit. “I said, 'I can't sit here and watch this man run around and maybe perish in front of me,' so I took off running.”

Witness Mitch Navarre, reached the driver, identified as Jeffrey Denman, and tried put out the fire with his jacket. McNally reached Navarre to help finish putting the fire out before the truck exploded again.

“We could feel the heat on our back,” McNally said. “It was getting up there, getting him put out and finding out [something] was running down my shoes. I asked him, 'What's your name?', and he said 'Jeffrey.' And I said, 'Jeffrey, what were you hauling, what's rushing past us?' And he said: 'Jet fuel.'”

McNally and Navarre were able to get Denman away from the tanker fire as firefighters arrived to contain the fire. Denman was rushed to a nearby hospital to undergo treatment for burns.

McNally escaped the fire unscathed, but told reporters the only thing on her mind was getting back to her son.

“All I want to do is hold him and cry,” McNally said.

A fireman walks past the tanker truck that exploded in a Lima neighborhood on January 23, 2020, killing several people and igniting houses and cars A fireman walks past the tanker truck that exploded in a Lima neighborhood on January 23, 2020, killing several people and igniting houses and cars Photo: AFP / STRINGER