Man recounts saving girls from flames of car crash
Galeton CO, Colorado
GALETON, Colorado ” Just a little east of this small town, further out on the prairie, the Nicklas house is silent. It’s a new home, in a small cul-de-sac of new homes with prairie grass in the yard and children’s playsets in back. In the newly-poured cement in front of the quiet Nicklas home, a little girl’s hands are imprinted in the gray stone.
Tuesday afternoon, the mother who lived in this house died in a crash on Colo. 392. Her children were saved by a man who pulled them from her 2006 GMC Envoy just before it and the semi in the crash exploded into flames.
Melissa Nicklas, 27, died in the crash. It’s likely no one will ever know why her car suddenly swerved into the path of the semi.
There is a hero in this sad story. Jorge Orozco-Sanchez, 30, of Firestone was driving the semi that was hit by the SUV. The crash happened so fast he couldn’t respond.
But as soon as the vehicles stopped moving, he jumped from the cab and ran to check on the car.
“I grabbed one of those little girls and got her out,” Orozco-Sanchez said in a telephone interview. “I tried to grab the other one but the fire was getting bigger and the smoke was so bad I couldn’t see. I was finally able to get her out.” But when Orozco-Sanchez went back for the mom, the fire was burning fiercely and he couldn’t get close. He said he regrets that he couldn’t save the girls’ mother.
Still shaken from the experience, Orozco-Sanchez said smoke was so bad he couldn’t see as he freed the girls. They had new car seats, and he was able to remember how to release them because his children also have the car seats. He has a son, 5, and a daughter, 1.
His hair was burned and he had burns on his arms from the rescue, but Sanchez said it wasn’t bad.
Melissa’s husband — the girls’ father, Colin Nicklas — spent Wednesday between two little girls in two hospitals: 4-year-old Peyton Nicklas is at North Colorado Medical Center, and Morgan Nicklas, 1, is at Children’s Hospital in Denver.
A neighbor said the children did not suffer fatal injuries, but there was some broken bones, and they may be in the hospital awhile.
It’s been a hard year for the family. In August, Melissa’s father, Earl Fulton, died at the family home in Briggsdale.
Colin Nicklas works as a construction electrician, according to friends. A truck labeled Encore Electric was parked in the family driveway Wednesday.
Colorado State Patrol reports show the girls were in child seats, which likely saved their lives. Because of the fire, it’s unknown if Melissa Nicklas was wearing a seat belt.
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