The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

December 19, 2013

Wife finds men who pulled husband from burning car

ATHENS — An Athens wife who was searching for the good Samaritans who pulled her husband from his burning car last week has finally found her heroes.

Robert Clairday, a karate instructor, was one of the men who dragged 22-year-old Max Amrein to safety following a Dec. 12 wreck on Interstate 65 near Athens, Max’s wife Mellisa reported on the social networking website Facebook.

Andrew Hammond, 21, of Athens, the other driver injured in the accident, also helped save Amrein. 

Max, who suffered a head injury in the wreck, underwent brain surgery the same day and has been in the neuro-intensive care unit at Huntsville Hospital since the wreck.  He finally turned the corner Tuesday, Mellisa reported on Facebook.

On the morning of the wreck, Clairday, Hammond and another bystander pulled Max out seconds before it burst into flames. After The News Courier and other media informed their audiences that Mellisa was looking for the men who saved her husband, Robert Clairday, who owns Clairday Karate Studio in Cullman, Decatur and formerly Athens, came forward. “Robert Clairday came to the hospital today and spoke with Max,” Melissa wrote Tuesday.

She said Clairday told Max, “You look way better than when I pulled you out of that car.”

From what Mellisa can piece together, Max had been partially ejected from his car. Clairday, who happened upon the wreck, was unsure how Max got outside the vehicle.

“He was either slung out or Mr. Hammond pulled him the rest of the way out,” Clairday said. “Mr. Hammond had a pretty traumatic injury to the chest when he hit the steering wheel and was going in and out of shock. He had left him (Amrein) at the base of the car near the gas tank and was trying to flag people down.”

A Hispanic man also arrived on the scene and helped, but left before Clairday could get his name.

“We dragged him about 20 or 30 feet by his shirt to the side of the interstate,” Clairday said. “About 30 seconds later the car exploded. It was a huge fire. It slung the tail lights and other parts across two lanes.”

Max was taken by Medflight to the hospital and, until Tuesday morning, was largely unaware of his surroundings.

After Mellisa had gone home for the night Monday, the hospital called about 3 a.m. Tuesday to tell her Max had awakened and was speaking.

“He is very aware of who he is and who his loved ones are, ” Mellisa wrote Tuesday. “He was asking for me. He even knows what month it is. He took steps today and is drinking and eating. Although he struggles to speak, he is still able to so praise the Lord for that.

She said her husband was to be moved to the hospital’s rehab center Wednesday.

“Though his recovery will be long and hard, he has beat this injury and he will live,” she wrote.

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