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Watch the dramatic rescue video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUxPWx4YW20
When Tom Timplen arrived at the scene of Monday's fiery motorcycle crash, he was pretty certain Brandon Wright was dead.
"It was just a nightmare," he said during a press conference in Logan on Tuesday afternoon. "Huge flames shooting up in the air."
But Kelsey Adler, 18, laying on the ground and peering under the car, realized that Wright, though wedged beneath the car, was still alive amid the burning debris, according to KUTV.
Wright on Tuesday remained in Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, where he was listed in critical condition after his eastbound motorcycle collided with a BMW sedan about 11:40 a.m. on U.S. Highway 89 in Logan.
Matt Barney said he saw it happen, and he, too, thought the worst when both vehicles burst into flames and he realized Wright was trapped beneath.
"Dead or alive I don't want to sit here and watch this guy burn," Barney, a radiation therapist, said he thought.
Timplen said he quickly pulled on a pair of gloves, and then witnesses said they watched him try single-handedly, but unsuccessfully, to lift the heavy car off Wright. Then two or three more people tried to help.
When Logan patrol Sgt. Jason Olsen pulled up, he saw the woman laying on her belly and Timplen and the few others trying to move the heavy car. Olsen said he went for a jack to try to prop the car up, but within 3 to 5 seconds, a dozen people materialized and worked together to push the car off Wright's body.
"I thought it was awesome," Olsen said.
The accident happened right near Utah State University's math department.
"I heard screaming," said Anvar Suyundikov, a graduate student from Uzbekistan studying statistics.
Another grad student in statistics, Abbass Sharif, of Lebanon, said his thoughts naturally drifted toward the injured man's odds of surviving.
"What are the chances of him living or dying," Sharif said he thought. He believed death would be 100 percent certain if no one helped, but he'd have a chance of survival albeit however small if others helped.
He, Suyundikov and classmate, James Odei, from Ghana, said they didn't think of the danger, the heat from the flames or the weight of the car when they realized Wright was trapped.
"So long as we can give them a second chance," Odei said he thought.
As everyone lifted, Suyundikov was among those who used Wright's legs and arms to yank his unconscious form from beneath the wreckage.
"I saw a lot of blood near his head," he said. "The first thing I thought he was dead."
Then Wright suddenly took some deep breaths.
Assistant Logan Police Chief Jeff Curtis said the accident occurred when the BMW, exiting a parking lot across the street from the Utah State University campus, drove in front of Wright's bike. Wright and his bike then slid into and under the car. The bike caught fire when its gas line ruptured, and the flames spread to the BMW. The Highway Patrol continued to investigate the accident Tuesday afternoon, Curtis said.
Barney said the male driver of the BMW was "very emotional" and shaken by what had occurred. Curtis said Wright suffered broken bones, cuts and burns. The driver of the BMW was not injured. Police said alcohol and drugs were not a factor.
"I'm just very thankful for everyone that helped me out," Wright told The Associated Press by telephone from his hospital bed. "They saved my life."
Firefighters quickly doused the flames and Wright was rushed to the hospital by medical helicopter.
Tyler Riggs, who identified himself as Wright's uncle, said Tuesday that Wright had undergone surgery Monday night and was expected to recover, though it would be a long recuperation.
"Every one of those people put their lives in danger," Curtis said to The AP. "Those people are heroes. You can only speculate what the outcome would have been if they hadn't lifted that car and waited for the emergency service personnel to get up there."
Barney said he doesn't consider himself a hero. He was just in the right place at the right time.
"I think that anybody that was there would have done the same thing," he said. "If someone is in trouble, you help them."
Roxana Orellana contributed to this report