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Trucker on passer-by who saved him from burning rig: 'She was an angel to me'

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A Parker County, Texas, father says he can't say "thank you" enough to a stranger who rescued him from his burning 18-wheeler after he crashed in Dallas on Wednesday morning.

"She was an angel to me," Elias Uribe said. "She's my hero."

Uribe lost control of his semi-trailer on a rain-slickened Interstate 30 near downtown. The truck burst into flames. His door was jammed shut. He remembers the fire just inches from his elbow.

"Probably 30 seconds more, and I would have caught on fire," he said.

As the flames neared, a stranger showed up from nowhere, he said.

"And then in the distance I could hear a woman screaming, 'Can you get out? Are you OK? Can you get out? It's burning,'" he said.

The voice belonged to Terry Sims, who happened to be driving by on her way to work.

"I came around, and I saw flames coming from underneath the trailer, so I pulled him out of the truck," she said soon after it happened.

Sims said she was concerned for her own safety but ran up to the burning truck anyway.

"He was in the truck, and the door wouldn't open," she said. "We had to pull him out the window. I was just so scared it was going to blow."

Sims then led Uribe to safety.

"I could barely walk, but I leaned on her, and she pulled me all the way," he said.

Within minutes, the cab was engulfed in flames.

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Uribe said Sims single-handedly saved his life -- "no doubt."

His three children -- Eliazar, 8, Elizabeth, 10, and Elias Jr., 12 -- would have been left without parents.

"I don't know if they understand, but I tell them I made it," Uribe said. "That's all that matters."

His longtime wife, Dolores, was killed in May in a car crash near their Parker County home. It makes what Sims did all the more special.

"I'd like to thank her very much," Uribe said, choking back tears. "I don't have words to say."

After all this, Uribe said he's going to take a break from driving professionally and "take some time with my kids and be with them."

"More than ever, you don't know how fragile life is," he said.