Rookie Titans linebacker saves family from burning car - WNEM TV 5

Rookie Titans linebacker saves family from burning car

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Jonathan "Tig" Willard Jonathan "Tig" Willard
Clint Dowty Clint Dowty

Brave good Samaritans, including a rookie Tennessee Titans linebacker, jumped into action to save a woman, her children and the family's dog from a burning car Tuesday on Interstate 40.

Linebacker Jonathan "Tig" Willard saw the flames and heavy smoke coming from the car in front of him as he made his way toward Nashville for the start of training camp, but that's just the start of the story.

He and another man, Clint Dowty, didn't just stand by and wait for help, and what they did next is rightfully earning them a lot of praise.

"I'm proud of him," said Titans head coach Mike Munchak.

"It kind of topped everything that I have ever done," Willard said. "I just feel like I was in the right place at the right time, and I give all the glory to God. I just feel like I was there for a reason."

Dowty and Willard, who was signed as a free agent out of Clemson University this spring, each saw trouble with Cheri Hubbard's SUV.

Hubbard had her three kids and dog, Dutch, in tow when the vehicle started smoking.

Willard sped up and got Hubbard to pull over, then both men jumped into action.

"She opened the door and looked at me like, 'What's wrong?' And I said, 'Ma'am, your car is on fire,'" Dowty said.

Dowty and Willard started pulling out the kids to safety, along with anything else they could find.

"I grabbed the smallest one out first," Willard said.

"The dog jumped in my lap. I ran over, gave it to somebody and came back and started grabbing her purse. The kids were screaming for their Nintendo," Dowty said.

Soon, the entire car was fully engulfed in flames.

Hubbard calls the men real life heroes.

"They saved our lives," Hubbard said. "You don't meet people like that every day."

But try telling them that.

"I mean, I was just doing what I was, somebody put me behind that car for a reason,  and unfortunately what happened, happened. And I just did what I needed to do," Dowty said.

And the good deeds didn't stop there. Another passerby stopped and gave the children juice boxes as they sat beside the interstate, and a second woman handed Hubbard $40. She said someone had given it to her the day prior, and she thought Hubbard would need it more.

Willard led Clemson in tackles last season with 95, starting all of the team's 12 games. The Titans start training camp practices Thursday.

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