Heroic dad saves neighbour from car inferno
A FIERCE building rivalry has been slightly softened by the brave actions of a Toowoomba dad saving his neighbour's life.
Hutchinson Builders cost planner Chandana Kuruppu was in the bathroom of his Middle Ridge home about 7.20pm yesterday when he heard his wife Chandima call out.
She had heard a big noise outside their Jake Ct home.
"She had seen smoke coming out from a car," Mr Kuruppu said.
A Toyota Kluger in the next door driveway had crashed into a fence and the wheels were still spinning.
Slumped behind the steering wheel with his foot still on the accelerator was 22-year-old Jack Gardner, a property development officer at Toowoomba construction firm FKG Group.
The two men had not previously met, as Mr Gardner was in the process of moving into his new home.
Mr Kuruppu said he could see flames as he ran to the car and a man sitting in the driver's seat.
"I opened one door then I shouted at him 'come out, come out, come out man, it's burning'."
"He (Mr Gardner) was shaking."
Mr Kuruppu then ran around to the driver's door and opened it before removing Mr Gardner's seatbelt.
"He was a big man so I couldn't carry him so I dragged him down and pulled with his shirt about 10 or 15 metres."
He then shouted to one of his two daughters to call 000.
His wife helped to keep moving Mr Gardner away from the car.
Neighbours heard shouting and came out and helped.
"He (Mr Gardner) was not unconscious but he could not talk at that time."
They had only just pulled Mr Gardner to safety when the Kluger exploded into flames.
Mr Kuruppu was worried the fire would spread to his property or nearby bushland.
"We tried to put some water on the fence line but everyone was shouting 'don't go there'."
Firefighters arrived soon after and extinguished the blaze.
"He was very lucky because my wife heard that noise.
"If we were late, that car would be burned, with him.
"I took a risk but I am happy because I saved a man's life."
Mr Gardner said he had been hooking up his fridge when he left the home to go to get a fitting.
"When I was going up my driveway I started feeling a little bit dizzy," Mr Gardner said.
It got worse as he kept driving.
"So I tried to go for the brake and I think I hit the accelerator instead.
"Then I blacked out and apparently drove into the wall."
Mr Gardner awoke on the ground with paramedics around him.
He could see his car on fire.
"They told me that... Chandana dragged me out and saved my life.
"I'm lucky to be alive, thanks to Chandana."
He was recovering in Toowoomba Hospital this morning.
Doctors had told him they thought he had suffered a seizure.
"I have never even fainted in my life."
He also had a dislocated shoulder.
"But I've already done that before so it comes out fairly easily."
He was looking forward to meeting his new neighbour for the second time.
"I suppose I owe him a fine bottle of wine or something for saving my life."
His dad Gary Gardner, who is executive chairman of FKG Group, said he was very appreciative for the brave actions of his business competitor's staff member.
"I'm looking forward to meeting him," he said.
Mr Kuruppu was grateful his neighbours had rushed to his aid.
"It is a good neighbourhood."