Neighbors try to save burning man from car fire after crash in east Harris County

BAYTOWN, Texas (KTRK) -- Neighbors attempted to save a man who caught on fire after crashing his car in a ditch Saturday morning in east Harris County by dumping gallons of water on him.

"We could not get the door open because the way the car was jammed into the ground," said Shuntay Montgomery. 'So, we couldn't get it. But we had it opened up just enough to keep pouring water on top of his body."

The crash happened in the 2600 block of Broad Street in the community of McNair around 9 a.m., according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Derrick Tyler, 34, was driving home from his job at a metal plate pipe yard when deputies said it appeared he fell asleep, veered off the road and landed nose-down in a ditch.

"She was pouring water over him while I was trying to open the doors, but we couldn't get the doors open," said Edgar Johnson, another neighbor. "He was hollering 'Help me, help me' but the car exploded. I couldn't get to him."

Three neighbors worked together. Johnson said he used a brick to try to break in through a window as Montgomery got the passenger side door cracked open.

A third woman, Keshla Montgomery, ran to her home bringing back gallons of water, recently purchased at the grocery store, to pour over Tyler.

The neighbors said they were working alone as the minutes passed by waiting for help.

By the time firefighters came, the whole car was in flames, but we were here 45 minutes to an hour," said Montgomery. "He was still living. Highlands Fire Department is only five minutes away from us."

The Highlands Volunteer Fire Department told ABC 13 they arrived 14 minutes after being dispatched.

Chief Harvey Little said they are mutual aid and only service the small community of McNair when the McNair Volunteer Fire Department doesn't respond first.

ABC13 went by the McNair fire station just a block away from the car crash.

A man who lives across the street from the station said there are no active members affiliated with the volunteer fire department, and they have not been operational for more than a year.

The revelation leaves questions about whether or not time was wasted waiting on a defunct fire department that never responded.

When asked on scene about concerns over the response time, Lt. Kim Fonville with the Harris Co. Sherriff's Office said it's under investigation.

ABC13 spoke with Tyler's stepdad who said Tyler was a well-known DJ and rapper known as Lil D.

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