A Hero Among Us: Lake area man saves two men from truck fire

The armored vehicle that crashed on Route J between Macks Creek and Roach.

It’s not everyday that an opportunity arises to be a hero. For Kurtis Brown, that moment came May 27. As he was driving his Southwest Electric truck on Route J near Macks Creek, he came upon the scene of an armored truck that had crashed into a tree and was smoking.

Leslie Powers, the truck driver, says he only remembers some of the incident. He says he and his partner in the passenger seat were driving on Route J in an armored bank vehicle to their destination. Powers says that one of the back wheels ran off the shoulder of the road and sent them off the roadway. Though Powers was able to correct the vehicle and get it back onto the road, the momentum sent them off the other side and into a resident’s yard. The force of the heavy vehicle crashed into and uprooted a stump and was eventually stopped after crashing full-force into a tree.

This is when things went blurry for Powers, who says that he doesn’t thoroughly remember anything after this until he was out of the vehicle and on the grass in the resident’s yard. But Powers and his partner didn’t get out of the wrecked vehicle alone. He says that if Brown wouldn’t have come to their rescue at that exact moment, the two of them would have been taken by the flames.

“We wouldn’t be here without him,” Powers said. “If not for Kurtis, it would have been as bad as it could have been.”

Brown says that the moment he saw the crashed vehicle, his brain instinctually started finding a way to help. He says he went up to the window where Powers' partner was sitting trapped inside. The armored truck was equipped with bullet proof windows, making it impossible to open without tools. Brown ran back to his service truck and he says he grabbed a hammer and a fire extinguisher. He doused the flames until the extinguisher was empty then used the hammer to break out both windows.

Though he was able to get the windows shattered, he wasn’t able to open the doors as the latches were busted. Brown then took his hammer and used the claw to wedge the driver’s side door open slowly. This would eventually get it open and allow the two passengers to exit. Moments later, the entire truck was engulfed in flames.

“I was so thankful I was able to help. I’d help anybody in that situation,” Brown said.

Brown says it was instinct. His job had equipped him with some training that helped navigate the situation much like he would have to with a crew member. Though incredibly humble in regards to the feat, Brown, who lives in Cross Timbers, says he is proud of his heroic effort and has received plenty of thanks in return. To Powers, Brown is nothing short of a hero.

“He saved two lives that day, there’s no two ways about it,” Powers said. “If he had driven on by, the next vehicle would have been too late. I didn’t know his story, and he had no idea who I was, but to run up and have the mindset of ‘I have to do this’, it’s amazing. It baffles me. The truck was on fire and he was only worried about saving us.”