Instead of looking for a bad guy, deputies from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office were asking for the public’s help Tuesday to find a good guy.
Capt. Scott Stewart said the man they want to speak with rescued Alicia Szostak-White, 25, of Windham from her burning sport utility vehicle early Tuesday morning. He may have come forward Tuesday night, but the sheriff’s office had not yet confirmed it.
Szostak-White’s Toyota Rav4 went off Route 35 in Naples just after midnight when she swerved to avoid hitting a deer and lost control. Her vehicle smashed into a tree before tipping onto its side and catching fire.
Two men came to her rescue, including one police say climbed inside the burning SUV, removed her seat belt, and pulled her out with the other man’s assistance.
Stewart said the good Samaritan did not stick around to speak with deputies. The other man who helped does not know the individual.
“We’re going to put some resources into trying to find him,” Stewart explained. “It’s not often that we put a lot of effort into looking for a good guy, but we want to recognize him for his bravery.”
After rescuing Szostak-White, the man – whom Stewart referred to as a “hero” – left the crash scene in what a witness described as a white SUV. Deputies planned to be on the lookout Tuesday night for the man’s vehicle in case he uses the road to commute to and from work.
Late Tuesday night, Stewart said he received an email that appears to have been from the man who rescued Szostak-White, but he declined to release his name until he could verify that it was from her rescuer. Stewart said the man who sent the email lives in the area of the crash site.
Meanwhile, Szostak-White’s husband, Ashley Szostak, identified the man who helped the good Samaritan as Irvin Ward, who he thinks might live in Naples.
The good Samaritan crawled inside the burning vehicle, was somehow able to remove her seat belt, and Ward helped him pull her to safety, Szostak said.
“Alicia didn’t get a good look at him (her rescuer) because she was staring at the flames in the car,” Szostak said in a telephone interview late Tuesday. Szostak said the fire destroyed the vehicle. “Their timing was just unbelievable and Alicia is very thankful.”
Szostak said his wife was in a great deal of pain and appears to have broken several orbital bones around her left eye. After being treated at Mercy Hospital in Portland, she was released and is resting at home. She is planning to visit a specialist on Wednesday.
Both he and his wife are grateful for the bravery her rescuers displayed.
“I can’t thank them enough,” Szostak said. “I have my wife with me now. If it wasn’t for them, I’m not sure she would be here with me.”
Szostak-White works in the children’s department at L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport.
According to Stewart, Szotak-White was traveling on Route 35 a few minutes after midnight when she swerved to avoid striking the deer. Her SUV went off the road, hit a tree, and tipped onto its side. She became trapped inside the vehicle.
“It was on fire when he cut her seat belt and helped her get out,” Stewart said of the good Samaritan. “Her vehicle was completely destroyed.”