Saturday, October 13, 2007


Robert Howard of Wolf Court in Elyria was just relaxing watching some TV Saturday night when the unexpected happened.

“I was sitting in my living room watching NASCAR and my wife was upstairs on the computer. She come running down the stairs and said look at the fire across the street. So I grabbed my fire extinguisher and went over there.”

Howard, with fire extinguisher in hand, could see a man on fire as he was crossing the street. “I could see the clothes burning on his back and as I got closer I just stated shooting the extinguisher on him and the car to get the fire out. The man was screaming so loud it was just awful. He was sitting on the car at first but then he just fell to the ground and stayed there until the Fire department got here.”

Captain Tim Mitchell of the Elyria Fire Department said they received the call as a car on fire next to a home. “When we arrived the fire had been extinguished by the neighbor and the victim was lying on the ground next to the car. We assisted LifeCare Paramedics with treating the victim and realizing how seriously burned he was we had our dispatch put LifeFlight in the air to meet us at the hospital.”

It is believed that the victim, who did not live at the home but was a friend of the homeowner, had fallen asleep inside of a car in the driveway while smoking a cigarette. Burned clothes and shoes remained on the ground after LifeCare took the victim to Elyria Memorial. Officials estimated that the victim was burned over 60% of his body.
Robert Howard and the fire extinguisher he always keeps in his front room may have saved a life tonight. Howard said that he always has an extinguisher close by, “I know what fire can do, I know what it can do to a person so I will always have one close by.”
To see more photos: CLICK HERE
UPDATE: The victim in this story, 50-year-old Donald Secrist, died Sunday afternoon at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. The cause of death is still under investigation.


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