Hometown Hero: Rusty Hunter

Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 5:56 PM EST
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THUNDERBOLT, Ga. (WTOC) - Rusty Hunter wasn’t waiting for a car crash to take place outside his Thunderbolt home. But he knew what to do when one did.

This is not exactly the picture of good fortune. But the driver of this car had no idea how lucky he was to hit this tree, on this road, in front of this Army veteran’s house.

“I heard the car go by, I heard the screech, I heard the crash. I immediately stepped outside, I saw the car was burning, so I’m doing a scene survey as I was running down here. I knew it was life threatening,” Hunter said.

It was the middle of the night when a car crashed outside Hunter’s Thunderbolt home. And the former Army medic who worked in emergency services after he left the military was not only awake, he was ready to respond.

“I ran out the back door with my shoes and my flashlight and I saw the car here burning, so I took off in a sprint,” he said. “I noticed that he couldn’t get out that side, so I started snatching on the door pretty hard. He was passed out completely, his head was slumped over. When I got the door open, I guess oxygen got in, smoke came out. He passed out. It was burning in the dashboard. So, yeah, we were lucky, both of us.”

Hunter pulled the driver out of the burning car and across the street to safety as the Thunderbolt Fire Department arrived on the scene.

“Remarkable for anybody to do, but for him to have the background that he had, he recognized the emergency, he knew exactly what to do,” Dallas Thompson said. “The driver is alive today because of what Rusty did.

Last week, the town of Thunderbolt honored Hunter for his actions with the Heroic Citizens Recognition - attention this WTOC Hometown Hero had been avoiding since the incident in October.

“They asked me a couple of times and I said no and then my wife snuck it in on me. But I just reacted. I hope somebody would do that for me,” Hunter said. “There was a reason I was awake. Maybe it was to help this guy. There was a reason I was awake.”