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Littleport dad honoured for saving woman from burning vehicle

By Ely News  |  Posted: November 27, 2013

Chief fire officer Graham Stagg, left, with award winner Alan Chapman, centre, and guest host for the evening Janine Machin, right.

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A dad who saved a woman from a car which had burst into flames has been honoured for his bravery.

Alan Chapman, 45, was driving along Branch Bank in Prickwillow on the afternoon of May 25 when he came across the scene of a horrendous accident involving a motorcycle and a car.

Tragically, the motorcyclist, popular Christie Joe Couzens, 22, of Parsons Lane, Littleport, was pronounced dead at the scene.

When father-of-three Alan, of The Barns, Littleport, arrived at the collision, the 41-year-old female passenger of the car involved, a white Volkswagen estate, was screaming for help.

The vehicle’s driver, a 40-year-old woman, was still trapped inside the vehicle, which had flipped upside down onto its roof, and had caught fire.

Within seconds, Alan, a plastic moulder, had managed to clamber in through one of the windows, unfastened the driver’s seatbelt and managed to get her out of the car.

At Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s annual awards ceremony last Thursday, Alan was awarded the prestigious Certificate of Commendation.

Speaking to the News, he said: “People keep telling me I’m a hero but I don’t really see it like that. I just went into action mode and did what needed to be done on the day.

“Sadly I wasn’t able to help the motorcyclist as he had already died.

“The passenger in the car was screaming that the driver was still inside and I could see flames coming from the engine.

“I just rushed over to the car, which was on its roof, and managed to climb in through the window. I unfastened her seatbelt and managed to lift her out through the window.

“I don’t know where I found the strength to do it all but it just came from nowhere. The inside of the car was so hot I could barely breathe.

“The heat was so intense it even faded half of one of my tattoos on my arm. It’s not everyday that something like that happens but I just knew that I had to do something.”

The woman was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital by air ambulance and survived her injuries.

Chief fire officer for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Graham Stagg, said: “I was very proud to present the Certificate of Commendation to Mr Chapman.

“Although we wouldn’t recommend members of the public put their own lives in danger, this was a truly brave and selfless act, which I have no doubt saved the life of the driver.”

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