DULUTH, Ga -- A Duluth man is in critical condition in the burn unit at Grady Memorial Hospital after his pickup truck burst into flames while he was driving it last Sunday. He is alive because of a Good Samaritan, a U.S. Marine.
TaRay McGinnis, 26, was driving his pickup truck north on I-85 near Old Peachtree Road when it burst into flames. Marine Sgt. Matthew Sullivan was driving back to the Marine recruiting center in Lawrenceville when he saw a big black cloud of smoke.
Sgt. Sullivan said he saw something pop out of the passenger side door of the truck when he approached the vehicle. "I saw this black ball of smoke and flames and as I ran up, it was a human being on fire," he said.
McGinnis was completely engulfed in flames until Sgt. Sullivan made him roll on the grass along the highway. He dragged McGinnis away from the truck in case it exploded. Sgt. Sullivan's said McGinnis was screaming in pain the whole time. "And I'm asking him to talk to me and communicate with me," he said. "And I said, 'As long as you're still breathing and screaming brother, you're still alive.'"
Five days later McGinnis is still alive in Grady Memorial Hospital's burn unit. His mother, Tracey McGinnis, flew in from Ohio and has been by his side every day. "When I got here and looked at him in that condition, he didn't look like my son," she said.
Even though her son is sedated, she talks to him. "I hope that when he does come to, maybe he'll say like mom I heard you," his mother said.
And if he does come to, it will be because of a Marine who has served in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. "I've seen everything between compound fractures, breaks, blood and guts, death, but nothing like this," Sgt. Sullivan said.
Tracey McGinnis said she has been overwhelmed by the response from first responders. The first Gwinnett County Police officer who arrived on the scene has already paid her a visit. Sgt. Sullivan said he will visit her over the weekend. "They are truly, they're truly heroes," McGinnis said. "If it wasn't for them, TaRay wouldn't be here."