N.Y. Woman Rescued from Burning Car by Group of Bystanders, Including Her Former Orchestra Teacher

"We could feel the heat. We had to pull her out of the car and across the street," said a bystander Michael Susinno

<p>Getty</p> Stock image of police tape and cars


Stock image of police tape and cars

A woman was saved from her burning car by several bystanders on Sunday, June 23 in Suffolk County, N.Y., reports ABC 7, Pix 11 and TBR News.

Tempestt Harris-Buckner, 33, was driving northbound on Bread and Cheese Hollow Road around 6 p.m. But near Pulaski Street, she swerved her car to avoid hitting an animal and then struck a utility pole. Then, both her car and the pole caught fire.

Fellow driver Michael Susinno was two cars behind Harris-Buckner when the accident occurred. By the time he reached Harris-Buckner's vehicle, flames were shooting up 15 feet high, and the utility pole exploded.

"We had no choice because now the flames were towards the windshield," Susinno told ABC 7. "We could feel the heat. We had to pull her out of the car and across the street, where we laid her down. And that was the moment the car became fully engulfed in flames."

<p>Getty</p> Heavy traffic on Belt Parkway, Jamaica Bay, Canarsie Park.


Heavy traffic on Belt Parkway, Jamaica Bay, Canarsie Park.

Susinno and another bystander pulled Harris-Buckner out of the burning vehicle. "We approached the window which was down and she responded to us, we said we're so sorry, we're gonna have to get you out of the car, the car is on fire," Sussino said. "And she shared that she was having difficulty breathing. Her chest hurt. The airbag had hit her in the face. And that her leg was badly broken."

Sussino told ABC 7 that he recognized the victim as one of his former students at Northport High School from over two decades ago. The Northport High School Orchestra director told Harris-Buckner that they knew each other as he was helping her.

"I said 'You don't know me, my name is Mr. Susinno, I'm one of your former teachers and you played the cello,' and as soon as I said the word cello her eyes looked up and she looked at me," Sussino said. "And we were able to comfort her, tell her that she was going to be OK, we asked her not to look at her leg."

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Shane McCoy, 25, also pulled over on the road to assist the other men. He recalled for Pix 11 that he told the other men, “We got to get her out of here now.”

After they removed Harris-Buckner from her vehicle, they transported her around 50 feet away before the car was destroyed by flames, McCoy said.

Bystander Michel Pitre, also at the site, heard mini explosions. Pitre, a medical malpractice attorney who has taken CPR classes, then applied a tourniquet to Harris-Buckner’s leg.

<p>Getty</p> Stock image of flashing lights on top of police patrol car


Stock image of flashing lights on top of police patrol car

"Due to the severity of the laceration and the amount of blood loss, my fear was that we had to stop the bleeding," Pitre told ABC 7.

McCoy told Pix 11 that another person retrieved a fire extinguisher from their house to assist with the growing flames. McCoy said that around six people assisted, alongside a volunteer firefighter and EMT.

Harris-Buckner was then taken to Stony Brook University Hospital and is currently being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

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A representative for Suffolk County Police Department didn’t immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for more information on Monday.

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