According to Highway Patrol Trooper Jazmin Garcia, the Portland man, Richard Damon Grimes, was southbound on U.S. Highway 181 at about 4:21 a.m. when his 2000 Dodge pickup ran off the road, hit a culvert and rolled one and a half times.
The vehicle came to a rest on its right side, facing north. Grimes was still alive and conscious. But he could not get his seat belt unhooked. He was stuck in his seat, several feet off the ground.
Just then, Grimes noticed flames coming out from around the hood of his truck.
Facing grim reality and a horrible death, Grimes said he started to pray.
As tears filled his eyes, Grimes looked up to see big old Texas angel coming.
It was James Huwe, a local man who just happened to be driving by when he saw the wreck and the flames licking up around the hood of Grime’s pickup.
Huwe heard Grime’s screams for help and he ran to the truck, braving a possible explosion and tossed Grimes a pocketknife.
Quickly, Grimes cut the seat belt loose and got out of the vehicle before it was engulfed in flames.
Trooper Garcia said both men were gone by the time she arrived at the scene from Live Oak County. By then, members of the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department had extinguished the flames.
But the horrible reality of what could have happened was apparent when the trooper saw the burned-out hulk that had once been Grime’s pickup.
Huwe said he never thought about the danger involved in what he was doing.
“I was just helping someone who was screaming for help,” he said. “Thank God we’re both alive.”
In the hospital, Grimes repeatedly told those tending to his injuries that what he really wanted to do was meet again with the man who had saved his life.
That meeting came days later in Beeville.
Grimes told Huwe that when he first saw the flames from the engine compartment, he thought, “Oh my God. I guess I’m going to burn here alive.”
“Then, James, you drove up.”
Of course, those who know Huwe were not surprised to learn what he had done. It has always been his nature to lend a hand to those in need.
Now people know they can expect Huwe to come running, even if means risking a fiery death to extend that helping hand.