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True Teen Heroes: Lake Of The Ozarks High Schoolers Save Man From Burning Car

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Vehicle On Fire - Car Fire

The quick action of two teenage girls may have saved a man from burning to death after a car crash in Miller County.

“We were basically like the first people there. We could tell it had just happened... And I would have felt so guilty if I had just kept driving,” said Christen Cicerelli, 16, a student at School of the Osage. 

Cicerelli and a 15-year-old student who asked not to be named, were driving back from work on Route D at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, when they saw a car off the side of the road.

As they came closer, they saw it was on fire. 

The two students pulled over to the side of the road and saw two men already on the scene. They had broken the windows of the car and dragged the unconscious driver out of the car and laid him on the ground, but they left before police arrived. The students were still on the phone with emergency responders as flames continued to rise around the vehicle.

“I was like ‘we need to stop, like this guy is not going to be okay his car is about to blow up, we need to help him,’” said the other student. 

The girls sprung into action and dragged the unconscious driver away from the vehicle, moving him to safety away from the fire. 

“He’s like, completely unresponsive, like barely breathing. And they [the two men] just leave, so me and Christen are like 'oh crap' and we pick him up and move him away from the car because the car is going to blow up,” the anonymous rescuer said. 

The two girls waited until police and EMS arrived and the driver was transported to University Hospital. According to the girls, when the fire department got there the fire had spread from the car to the trees and ground around it. The unnamed student described the vehicle as “It’s just completely melted and burnt. It’s not even a car.” and Cicerelli said it was “the worst car accident I’ve ever seen”

Afterwards, both girls were worried about what had happened to the driver. 

“I was like, worried about him. I couldn’t really go to sleep, I didn’t know if he’s okay because I definitely thought this guy was going to die... I did not think he was gonna live. Like, his skin was peeling off from being burned. I thought he was gonna die,” said the unnamed student. 

They later learned that the injured driver was 18-year-old Jonathon Cunningham, whose car had travelled off the right side of the roadway and struck a rock pillar entry. Cunningham is currently in stable condition at University Hospital but “has a long way to go” according to Cicerelli who has been in contact with Cunningham’s mother. 

“We were kind of the only people who could help the mom get answers and figure out what actually happened,” said Chriselli. “His mom was just really thankful.”

Friends and family have applauded the girl's bravery. Barbara Hannibal, a close family friend of the unnamed student, said of their actions: “If there’s an award for bravery, those two deserve it. Because they just ran out there and didn’t even give it another thought. I'm very proud of her.”

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