A 26-year-old man was in critical but stable condition at Grady Memorial Hospital on Saturday evening, less than a week after his car exploded along the northbound lanes of Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County.
TaRay McGinnis caught on fire during the accident, suffering severe burns across most of his upper body.
Had it not been for the quick thinking of a U.S. Marine, McGinnis might not have survived at all.
"I see this big cloud of charcoal black smoke, and I know that's not a good sign," said Sgt. Matthew Sullivan, a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Marines.
Sullivan has served on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and said the cloud of smoke he saw along I-85 near the Old Peachtree Road exit reminded him of what he saw in combat zones.
"Lo and behold, I see this ball of smoke and fire coming out of the passenger side, and it was a human being," said Sullivan, who pulled over and came to the aid of McGinnis.
Sullivan helped slap the fire down and get McGinnis away from the burning vehicle. After another driver pulled over and came to dump a bottle of water on the burning man, they were able to get McGinnis stabilized before his transport to Grady Memorial Hospital.
Sullivan believes it is no coincidence that he was the first person to pull over by burning car.
"I honestly believe that I was just supposed to be there," he said. "I really think it was fate. I really think God intended me to be there."
McGinnis' family said they've been told by doctors that, despite the extent of the burns, he should make a recovery.
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