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Motorcyclist's uncle tells rescuers, 'You are heroes'

By the CNN Wire Staff
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'Good Samaritans' speak on brave deed
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "We are just human beings trying to help, another human being," bystander said
  • Tyler Riggs said his nephew is in good spirits
  • Bystanders rescued Brandon Wright, who was trapped under a burning car
  • The group is credited with saving his life

(CNN) -- The uncle of a Utah motorcyclist pulled from underneath a burning car by a group of bystanders told his nephew's rescuers they are "heroes to our family."

Tyler Riggs spoke to CNN's Piers Morgan one day after a group of construction workers, students and other bystanders turned into a ragtag team of first responders to save Brandon Wright, 21.

The accident happened Monday on a street near Utah State University in Logan and was captured on video.

"I thank you on behalf of my family, and I know that my nephew Brandon will hope to thank you at some point, too. I know that you might be shy and want to dislodge the title, but you are heroes to our family," Riggs said, adding that his nephew is in good spirits.

"He was talking to us earlier and going through physical therapy and felt good after that. Things could have been much worse."

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Sgt. Jason Olsen of the Logan police was the first officer on the scene.

He was about to motion to a fellow responding officer to grab a jack when, "I realized that these citizens had already organized and were just going to manually lift (the car) up."

The crash occurred when a BMW pulled out of a parking lot and in front of the motorcyclist. Jeff Curtis, assistant chief of Logan police, said the motorcyclist tried to avoid the car, which resulted in him laying the motorcycle down.

After crashing, gas spilled out of the motorcycle and ignited, engulfing both the motorcycle and the front end of the car in flames, Curtis said. The motorcyclist became lodged underneath the burning vehicle.

The video, shot by Chris Garff, shows several startled bystanders looking under the BMW as flames leap into the air.

The crowd quickly grows to include a man in a suit, construction workers wearing hard hats, a woman in sandals and a young man carrying a backpack, the video shows. After one person in the group tries to pick up the blazing car, the crowd joins in and lifts the 4,000-pound vehicle.

"I do remember one gentleman saying, 'We need everybody to come and help lift,' and that's when everybody ran over," Olsen recalled.

One of the bystanders drags the fallen motorcyclist from under the vehicle, the video shows.

Wright was rushed to a hospital and was in stable condition after surgery Monday evening, Curtis said. The driver of the car was not seriously injured.

The man Curtis believes to be the driver appears in the video dressed in a dark suit. He stood a little off to the side from the group and did not help lift the car, the video shows. After Wright is pulled from underneath the vehicle, the man in the suit walks over to look at the motorcyclist.

"He was in a shock," Curtis said about the driver, adding that any possible charges related to the traffic accident are pending.

"It was frightening," said Garff, who shot the scene from the ninth floor of a nearby building. "You don't really see something like that and then when you do, it's inspiring. It gives us hope," he told HLN's "Prime News."

Police are looking for the good Samaritans to recognize them at a city council meeting for their actions. Most have already been identified, Curtis said.

Three of them, all Utah State University students, spoke to CNN Tuesday.

Anvar Suyundikov said he tried not to think of the danger as he jumped in to help.

"At first, when I saw it was a fire, I didn't think about myself," said Suyundikov "I thought about this poor guy underneath the car, and I thought the car was going to explode."

Another student, James Odei said, "All that came to my mind was if it was my son or my kid brother or anybody that is known to me, the first thing I would have done was to help that person. So all I did was quickly rush and give a helping hand."

Abbass al-Sharif said he did not think he or the others who helped were heroes.

"We are just human beings trying to help another human being. It is like our human instinct," he said.

But police believe the bystanders are heroes.

"Each of those people put their lives in danger as they do what they can to rescue Brandon," Curtis told "Prime News."

The area where Wright crashed is highly trafficked, Olsen said.

"I think had this accident happened in a suburban area we wouldn't have gotten that kind of response -- we would have never had that kind of manpower," he said.

Olsen added: "It speaks volumes to what people will do in a tragic situation to help another person out."

CNN's Anna Rhett Miller and Brooke Baldwin contributed to this report.

Watch Prime News weekdays at 5pm ET on HLN. For the latest from Prime News click here.

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