Jared Hydell doesn’t consider himself a hero for rescuing Scott Nicholas, but Nicholas’ family says he certainly fits the definition of one because he jumped into a burning vehicle to save Nicholas.
“I am referring to him as our earthly angel,” said Nicholas’ daughter, Amy. “I knew this kid since we grew up together.”Amy’s mother, Lori, added, “He gave us the greatest gift he could have possibly given us.”
Hydell had barely gotten Nicholas out of his wrecked SUV when it went up in flames.
At about 7 p.m., Hydell was on his way from Gretna to his mother’s vacation Bible School ceremony at Mt. Zion Baptist Church on River Road in Ama, when he saw the wrecked SUV. He saw a tree partially covering the road and an SUV on its side and the engine on fire.
Nicholas had been heading home, nearly a half-mile away, when he apparently blacked out. His vehicle rolled over once and slammed into a tree and left him inside of it unable to move.
As a career firefighter in Jefferson Parish, Hydell grabbed his fire gear from his trunk. But he had only the pants on when he realized time was running out.
“While the vehicle was on fire, I climbed through the passenger side window,” he said. “I kind of talked to Mr. Scott and tried to figure out where he was injured to get a brief idea of the extent of his injuries.”
Hydell determined Nicholas’ wounds were extensive and required immediate care, but he decided there was no time to treat him in the vehicle.
“I had to pretty much perform an emergency rescue, meaning we risk the limb to avoid any further injury to save your life,” he said. “It’s a life-over-limb situation.”
Hydell explained to Nicholas that what was coming next was going to be very painful and began just pulling him out of the SUV. When he was 60 percent free, bystanders helped pull Nicholas to safety.
Less than two minutes later, fire spread from the engine into the passenger compartment and the SUV went up in flames.
“It was very hot,” Hydell recalled. “Even being across the road, you could feel some intense heat coming from that vehicle.”
Nicholas’ family considers Hydell a hero.
“He got into a burning car to save my dad,” Amy said. Amy’s mother, Lori, agreed.
Nicholas’ youngest daughter, Danielle, also thanked Hydell.
“I am thankful that Jared was selfless enough to put his life on the line to save my dad’s,” she said. “And I would like to thank all of the first responders who went above and beyond to help him.”
Nicholas is recovering from extensive wounds to his limbs. But Amy has no doubt he’s alive because of Hydell’s bravery.
“He’s going to be part of this crazy family whether he wants to or not,” she said. “We’ve already told him he has to hyphenate his name and add the name Nicholas to it.”
Amy insisted he attend her wedding Saturday – and he did.
She also made sure Hydell was included in the wedding family photos. They also used a video link so Nicholas could witness his daughter marrying the man of her dreams, too.
“He’s appreciative of the credit, but he’s so humble saying he was just doing what he was trained to do,” Amy added.Hydell calls it “another day in the office,” but certainly welcomes being part of the Nicholas family.
“It hit home more because it was somebody I’ve known all my life,” he said. “I’m from Ama and I’ve known him. I grew up with Amy and went to school with her. I’ve known that family all my life. It was more satisfying that I was able to help somebody who watched me grow up from a kid to a young man.”
When Hydell visited her father at the hospital, he announced, “You’ve gained a son for life.” And, since Nicholas has daughters, the addition was a welcome one.
Hydell called it an honor.
“It’s great to be a part of a new family and to be welcomed with open arms,” he said. “I just acted on training I received. It started 12 years ago when I first started in the fire service. I did what I would do for anybody else.”
But he does agree there seemed to be a series of fortunate events last Friday.
“I just think God placed me at the right place at the right time,” he said of feeling this same sense of synchronicity in the incident. “As a firefighter, we don’t think about our safety. We put ourselves in harm’s way all the time. We think about the public safety. I’m a fireman first and a family man.”
Lori said he’s much more.
“It’s obvious Jared was born to be a first responder – it is in his nature,” she said. “By coincidence, it happened to be someone he knew. We will forever be thankful to our hero – our angel on Earth.”