Wheels Of Fire: Woman Sets Athens Field On Fire With Wheelchair, Gets Rescued

By Danielle Capper

ATHENS, TX (East Texas News)- It is probably one of the most unusual rescue stories we have ever heard. An East Texas woman, who has had her leg amputated, gets her wheelchair stuck in a pasture. As she tries to free herself, the wheelchair overheats and catches fire.

Luckily, a man happened to see the smoke from the fire.

"God, I don't want to go this way."

Fortunately for Jerri Smith she didn't - because of Obie Simpkins, whose curiosity got the best of him.

"I was parked at the red light, and just kept seeing smoke that was behind Wal-mart," Obie told us today.

"I was still hollering for help. Waving, pleading," says Jerri.

"I got back here and I noticed, all I saw was arms sticking up from the grass. Arms flying up real frantically," Obie recalls. "I jumped out of my van."

"He wasn't running at first, but you know I wanted someone to run. Because I was scared," Jerri says.

Jerri says she got stuck testing the limits of her wheelchair.

"I wanted to get out and do what I wanted to do, just like any two legged person."

"This hand in fire, this hand in blueberries with thorns. I was in shorts with no shoe!," explains Jerri, who is an amputee.

"She was probably about right in this area here where I found here. I drug her up away from the fire some more, and then I went and got help to get her the rest of the way out," Obie told us.

"They got me to a back of a pickup truck, and I was saved," says Jerri, with obvious relief.

Jerri was safe - but what about the fire?

"The wheelchair was still on fire. That was probably the biggest flames out there. Probably 15 feet or so in the air. It was blazing up pretty good."

"All that area just burning. I couldn't believe how big it got," said Jerri.

Because of the rough terrain, firefighters had to call in the Forestry Service to put a plow line to keep the fire from spreading. In all, the fire burned two acres.

Now Jerri says God must have been watching out for her, parking a good Samaritan at a red light.

"It felt like the right thing to do," said Obie. "I just hope somebody would do that for me."

"He's my blessing. He's my angel," says Jerri.

Jerri says she does have a standard wheelchair to move around.

But her electric wheelchair was a gift from a dying friend, and unfortunately Medicare won't buy her another.