Woman uses Gatorade to put out car fire, save family - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Woman uses Gatorade to put out car fire, save family

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- A Louisville woman is being credited for her quick thinking that saved her husband and two sons from a fiery crash on Interstate 64.

Debbie Branch told WDRB News by phone Monday that she used Gatorade to put out a car fire with her husband Jeff and two sons trapped inside. She told WDRB's Bennett Haeberle by phone that she did what needed to be done to "save the boys I love. I knew I had a cooler in the car," Debbie Branch said.

Assistant Fern Creek wrestling coach Jeff Branch was returning from a wrestling tournament in Mt. Sterling, KY on Saturday night on Interstate 64. His younger son, Jared, who also wrestles varsity for Fern Creek High School, had just won state as an eighth grader. That's when authorities say Jeff Branch lost control of his car, struck a semi-truck, crossed the median and struck another semi head-on.

Debbie says Jeff suffered seven broken ribs, a broken nose and a lacerated spleen.

"Frankly we didn't know if he was alive or dead," said head wrestling coach Mark Hitchings. "(The crash)shot him across the median and head-on with another 18-wheeler going in the opposite direction."

Practice at the high school went on Monday without Branch or his son. Hitchings credits Branch's oldest son, Derek, with helping to save his dad's life by protecting his face during the second impact.

Hitchings says Debbie Branch was following behind Jeff and came upon the wreck on Interstate 64.

"Jeff and his sons were unresponsive and the car was on fire. Debbie quickly tried to throw some snow on the fire. There wasn't enough to make a difference," Hitchings said.

Debbie told WDRB News by phone she turned to what she had in her car -- Gatorade -- to put out the fire.

The boys were treated and released at the hospital, but Debbie remained in Lexington Monday while Jeff is still being treated in the University of Kentucky Trauma Center.

"He has serious injuries but Jeff couldn't wait to get on the phone and talk a little wrestling with me. That's the way he is," said Hitchings.

Jeff is credited with helping build up the wrestling program and revamp the wrestling room. His team is anxious for a speedy recovery.

"I'm hoping he gets well soon get back in the room," said Kohl Dodd, a sophomore wrestler.

"A few inches here or there and we could be telling a whole different story here," said Hitchings.

Debbie Branch told WDRB News she doesn't want any praise or accolades for what she did to put out the fire or help her husband and sons.

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