The man who walked into a fire to rescue a toddler from a horrific crash, walked out a hero.
Jonathan Carroll was driving northbound on Albers Road in Riverbank back on January 28 when two cars violently collided in front of him.
“I saw an oncoming car that appeared to make a lane change into our lane and disappear in front of the pickup. About a second later we heard a large bang,” Carroll said.
The nurse of 33 years was driving his wife, who is a hospice nurse, to Solano to see some patients.
“To be honest with you, it was just instinct. We’ve been nurses for so long,” Darlene Carroll said.
“The truck was jackknifed with the trailer across the roadway. When I got around the vehicle, there was already flames coming up from the engine compartment,” Jonathan said.
Inside the truck was Chandra Barnard. Jonathan Carroll says he checked her pulse, and found no sign of life. She was trapped inside the vehicle.
But then, a sign of hope.
“I then heard the whimpering in the back seat,” Jonathan said.
Barnard’s three-year-old son, Jason, was sobbing in his car seat. Jonathan said the toddler had a bloody nose.
“I unbuckled the car seat and I noticed flames in front of his feet in between the two front seats coming up from the floor,” Jonathan said.
“Here he had the baby in one hand, and feeling for pulses with the other hand. So my first response is to get the child away from the fire,” said Darlene Carroll.
Darlene rushed Jason away from the car and called 9-1-1. The couple later found out the boy suffered a broken collarbone.
The couple’s quick action at a critical moment is credited for saving Jason’s Life.
The Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District, along with Supervisor Bill O’Brien, representatives from Congressman Jeff Denham’s office, Senator Tom Berryhill’s office, and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen’s office honored Jonathan Carroll’s call to action with four awards.
“It didn’t really occur to me that it was anything particularly heroic,” Jonathan said.
“It’s a huge deal. Anytime you have a chance to influence an outcome on somebody’s life. It is a big deal,” Buck Condit, Public Information Officer for Stanislaus Consolidated Fire, said.
Condit said he thinks Jonathan Carroll is just a humble man.
The couple’s son, James Carroll, agreed. James is an emergency room tech and nurse in training.
“The best part about this is he’s never acted like it was a big deal. It was always just part of the job,” James Carroll said.
James said he was studying at home with friends from nursing school when his dad walked in, immediately following the accident.
“He came in. He had blood on his shoulder. He’s washing his hands, and he’s like, ‘oh, I just saved a baby from a fire’. We thought it was a joke, and then we looked over at him and noticed he wasn’t smiling,” James said.
Jason and his two older sisters are now living with relatives.
The investigation into this accident is ongoing.
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