Eagle Scout receives ‘Heroism Award’ for pulling woman from burning car

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It was Mychal VanAllsburg’s first day on the job at Enterprise Door LLC in Michigan two years ago when a harrowing car crash made him stop in his tracks. 

Equipped with the lessons instilled in him from the Boy Scouts of America, VanAllsburg, an Eagle Scout, rushed to the scene and pulled a woman out of her car before it became engulfed in flames.  

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A few weeks ago, the woman – Jodie Matthews – handed VanAllsburg the Boy Scouts of America Heroism Award for saving her life. 

Mychal VanAllsburg and Jodie Matthews.
(Nikki Ciptak)

I heard the crash … and just started kind of running towards the noise,” VanAllsburg told Fox News of the 2018 accident.  

As he got closer, VanAllsburg recalled seeing a pickup truck rolling over a curb, stopping just short of a building. Eventually, the driver got out, he said. 

Then, he described seeing a “four-door car sitting in the middle of the street all beat up and mangled.” 

Instinctively, he ran toward it. 

“I ran straight to the car trying to assess the damage as I’m running up to it and assess the danger,” he said. “In Scouts, they teach you … if you don’t have to move the person, don’t move them.”   

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The windows were completely shut, but VanAllsburg recalled hearing Matthews cry out for help. 

“I looked towards the engine because I started smelling smoke and like electrical wires burning … it was coming from the engine bay. And so I was like, ‘OK, well, we have to get this lady out this car is going to catch on fire,’” VanAllsburg said. 

VanAllsburg stuck his hand between the doorframe and the top of the vehicle and began to bend it down. 

“By that time my co-worker had come running over to help me and the both of us bent the doorframe down to gain access into the vehicle,” he said. 

VanAllsburg recalled consoling Matthews, saying that he wouldn’t leave her side. 

Mychal VanAllsburg getting the Heroism Award for saving Jodie Matthews in the 2018 crash. 

Mychal VanAllsburg getting the Heroism Award for saving Jodie Matthews in the 2018 crash. 
(Nikki Ciptak)

Eventually, VanAllsburg said he was able to lift the steering wheel, giving them the ability to hoist Matthews from the car. 

“A couple of seconds later, the entire cab or the cockpit of the vehicle was engulfed in flames,” he said, adding that they were only about 10 feet away at that point. 

It was a moment, VanAllsburg said, he never really spoke about after the fact. He didn’t think it was his story to tell, he said. 

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In May, his story was told by many after he was handed one of three national awards from the Boy Scouts of America, honoring those who demonstrate heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save someone’s life. 

VanAllsburg said he was fighting back tears when Matthews pinned the award on his uniform during the June 5 ceremony. It was the first time they had met face-to-face since the accident. 

Even to this day, VanAllsburg says he doesn’t feel like he did anything out of the ordinary nor did he expect to get this much attention for it. It was just how he was raised, he said. 

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“You see an opportunity to help somebody, even if you don’t know them, you help them, and that’s all that was that day,” he said. “For me … I just saw an opportunity to help somebody that needed it, and I didn’t even think twice, I just went over and helped that lady.”


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