Peru man saved from flaming car


CANTON — Tom Adley doesn’t consider himself a hero. Shawn Russell, on the other hand, put him closer to guardian angel.

Tom said he did what he did by instinct. It’s what he had learned. Russell calls Adley’s actions the greatest gift anyone has ever given him.

“I’ve got two children. My son is 4 and my daughter is 6, and I’m not ready to leave them yet,” Russell said of Adley giving him a second chance at life that he plans to embrace.

Together with his son, Adley saved the 31-year-old Peru man’s life on Saturday afternoon when the two pulled a badly injured Russell from his wrecked car just moments before the vehicle burst into flames.

“You can only look at life in a bad way for only so long,” Russell said Tuesday night. “And then something like this happens and you see how big life really is. Those are two really brave men.”

Russell was driving south near the intersection of Route 140 and Pinewoods Road at about 12:30 p.m. when he lost control of his 1999 Mitsubishi sedan. It crashed into a pine tree and rolled over onto its side. Then it caught fire.

About that time, Adley and his son, Joshua, were driving by. Tom saw that Russell wasn’t able to get out of the car that was quickly going up in flames. He and Joshua took a shovel, broke the windows, and pulled Russell out of the burning vehicle.

Soon, Oxford County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tim Holland arrived as did the Canton Fire Department.

The fire was extinguished and the top of the car was cut off to make sure no one else was in the vehicle, Holland said. No one was.

Russell was taken by helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center where he was treated. He was released by Tuesday afternoon, Holland said.

“I used to be on the Canton Fire Department and Rescue,” Tom said, serving 25 years before leaving in 1993. “I saw the flames. He was trying to get out. We broke the windows. It was an instinct to do it.”

Holland is sure Tom and his son’s actions were crucial.

“They probably saved his life,” Holland said.

Also assisting at the scene were Med-Care Ambulance Service, Oxford County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Chancey Libby, and Maine State Police Trooper Kyle Tilsley.

Holland said the accident is under investigation. It is believed that excessive speed may have caused the crash.

Russell hopes to see the two men be recognized for their efforts. He plans on contacting the father and son when he returns from a family funeral in Rhode Island.

“They risked their lives and that’s something to be recognized,” Russell said. “And they did it on their day off. That’s when you put life before the dollar bill. That’s what they did and that’s just great.”

Staff Writer Andie Hannon contributed to this report.

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Staff Writer Andie Hannon contributed to this report.