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Good Samaritans rescue paralyzed man from Ga. 400 accident

Three witnesses to a fatal accident on Ga. 400 rescued a disabled man from a burning vehicle Monday.

Maria Martinez of Cumming was traveling southbound on Ga. 400 near Pilgrim Mill Road when she struck the back of freightliner tractor trailer, according to Forsyth County sheriff’s office. Her car spun out of control and struck a van headed in the same direction.

Martinez, 60, later died from her injuries.

The accident blocked all southbound lanes of the interstate temporarily Monday afternoon while authorities worked to clear the wreck.

Police say several passers-by pulled to the side of the road after they saw the accident.

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Gary McBryar, a Loganville construction worker who was heading northbound at the time, said he doesn’t remember crossing the median to help.

“I just reacted, I didn’t even think,” he said. “I was always taught to help your neighbor. You never know when you might be in the same situation.”

McBryar and two other men soon turned their efforts to a paralyzed man in a van as smoke billowing out of its hood.

Realizing that the passenger door was jammed, the men ran to the other side of the vehicle, bear-hugged the driver and pulled him through the driver’s door.

Minutes later, the vehicle was engulfed in flames.

“We didn’t take all of the precautions but in that sort of situation, we just wanted to get him out,” said Todd Hollaway, an off-duty Dawsonville paramedic who helped with the rescue. “I’ve been in emergency for 10 years. That’s what I do for a living. It was just natural. I enjoy helping others.”

Neither Hollaway nor McBryar described themselves as heroes.

“Anybody can be classified as a hero. I believe 90 percent of good people would (do the same),” McBryar said.

—Staff writer Mike Morris contributed to this report.

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