KEYC - Mankato News, Weather, Sports - - Heroes Save Man From Burning Van Near Comfrey

Heroes Save Man From Burning Van Near Comfrey

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COMFRY, Minn. -

A Nebraska man is in serious condition but alive, thanks to a pair of bystanders who pulled him from a burning van over the weekend.

Nick Rients, "I was to the east over that way combining soybeans, and saw the smoke in the ditch.

Stetson Shoen, "He called me and said he seen smoke."

Rients, "And as I got closer I noticed there was a car on fire so I sped over here as fast as I could."

When Rients and Shoen got to the scene they started fighting the fire with an extinguisher from the combine.

Shoen says, "The car was in flames, we couldn't see much it was really smoky."

Rients says, "I noticed the guy in the front seat, we just thought he had to get out of there and hopefully save him."

Lance Johnson, 74, was conscious when they got to him in the vehicle.

Shoen says, "He grabbed his seatbelt to show me that he was stuck, and that is when I cut his seatbelt out."

They then moved Johnson a safe distance from the burning van and waited for rescue crews to arrive.

The sheriff's department doesn't know what caused Johnson's Mercury Villager van to leave the road, but they believe oil or transmission fluid started leaking out after he hit a field approach, which started both the ditch and the van on fire.

It was here were Johnson's vehicle came to a fiery halt, and where the sheriff's department says he probably would have died if it wasn't for the quick thinking of the men.

Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffman says, "They are heroes, they went above and beyond, dragging people out of burning vehicles is dangerous and they never gave it a second thought."

Johnson is currently at Regions Hospital burn center with severe burns on his left leg, but alive thanks to these men.

Rients says, "We just did what had to be done and help this man."

Tuesday the Brown County Sheriffs department presented the two men with the sheriff department's Certificate of Civic Achievement award.