Three passers-by rescued a Standish woman from her burning car after it left the road and hit a tree Monday in Limington.

York County Sheriff William L. King Jr. said Janet Heggeman, 63, was driving her 2013 Buick Lacrosse on Route 25 toward Cornish around noon when she lost control and the car went off the road. The car struck a tree head-on, King said in a statement.

The tree snapped about 20 feet above the point of impact and her vehicle burst into flames. Heggeman was trapped inside. King said three individuals, including Joseph Parent of Portland, stopped to help.

Parent, an 82-year-old retired insurance agent, and his wife, Shirley, spotted the smoky wreck as they were returning home from North Conway, New Hampshire, Monday afternoon. Most of the flames, at least at first, were confined to the area in front of the steering wheel.

Joseph Parent of Portland and his wife, Shirley, spotted the smoky wreck as they were returning home on Route 25 from North Conway, New Hampshire, Monday afternoon. “We thought the car was going to explode,” he says. Photo courtesy of York County Sheriff’s Department

“We saw smoke and a car off the road. It had hit a big maple tree,” Parent said Monday evening in a telephone interview. “I stopped the car and grabbed my gloves.”

Parent, who has worked as a volunteer ski patroller for the Sunday River ski resort for 30 years, did not hesitate when he saw Heggeman inside the vehicle. She was screaming, he said, and the air bags had deployed, making it difficult to see through the front window.

“The car was on fire. It was pretty harrowing,” Parent said. “The smoke was unbelievable. I couldn’t see the lady’s face, it was that thick.”

Parent was not alone. There were at least two other people working feverishly to get Heggeman out before flames engulfed the car.

Joseph Parent says the air bags had deployed and “the smoke was unbelievable. I couldn’t see the lady’s face, it was that thick.” Photos courtesy of York County Sheriff’s Department

One man crawled onto the rear seat and unlocked the front passenger side door against which Heggeman had been pressed by the impact. While another person opened the door, Parent carefully cradled the victim under her arms as he pulled her out.

“We thought the car was going to explode. People were yelling at us, ‘Get out of there!’ ” Parent recalled.

Parent and the other rescuers then carried Heggeman to safety.

“We saved a life, no doubt about it,” said Parent, who usually goes to the gym on Monday nights to work out. He was too tired and decided to stay home.

When someone asked why he would endanger his own life, he replied, “I told that person I’d want someone to do the same for me.”

“Heggeman suffered extensive, although non-life threatening injuries and was transported to Maine Medical Center,” King said.

Her condition was not immediately available Monday night.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.