A person who heard a crash in Jarrettsville Sunday afternoon rushed to the scene and pulled a teenager from the burning vehicle before it became engulfed in the flames, likely saving the boy’s life, police said.
The driver of a vehicle died in the crash, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the crash.
Deputies responded to the crash in the 3900 block of Old Federal Hill Road at approximately 5:34 p.m. Sunday. There, they found a single vehicle crashed and engulfed in flames, the office reported.
Joseph Lee DePasquale, 35, of Annapolis, was determined to be dead at the scene, and Kai Merritt, 14, of Jarrettsville, was flown to Johns Hopkins Pediatric Emergency Department by a Maryland State Police helicopter for treatment of injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening, the office reported.
Police said the preliminary investigation suggests that DePasquale, who was a specialist in the Maryland National Guard, was driving east on Old Federal Hill Road in a 2017 Ford Expedition when the vehicle ran off the road. It struck a tree stump and caught fire.
A neighbor, who police did not name, heard the crash and rushed to the car before it was fully engulfed in flames, broke a window and pulled Merritt from the vehicle.
The investigation is active and ongoing, but preliminary information suggests that excessive speed was a contributing factor, the sheriff’s office said. It is not clear if DePasquale was wearing a seatbelt.
The Maryland National Guard tweeted on Thursday that DePasquale “epitomized the optimism, dedication, & fraternity that turns a group of men into a band of brothers.”
DePasquale joined the Maryland National Guard in 2014, according to the National Guard. He served as an infantryman and earned several distinctions during his military service, including the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal and National Defense Service Medal.
The sheriff’s office asked anyone who may have witnessed the crash or has any information on the event to call the office’s traffic unit at 443-409-3324.
Baltimore Sun reporter Taylor DeVille contributed to this article.