An Augusta couple is credited with saving the life of a driver who crashed his truck Monday evening in front of their house on North Belfast Avenue.

“It’s human nature to help somebody who is hurting,” Margaret “Peggy” Haskell said.

Christopher Booher, 39, of South China, was in serious condition as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Clay Holtzman, a spokesman for the Maine Medical Center in Portland, where Booher was taken by LifeFlight helicopter.

Booher was driving west about 5 p.m. on the avenue, also designated as Route 3, near Conservation Drive and Cross Hill Road when the 2006 Chevy pickup truck he was driving went off the road, hitting a tree near the Haskell home and catching fire.

Haskell and her husband, Timothy, after hearing the crash, removed Booher from the pickup. By the time rescuers responded, the truck was engulfed in flames.

“Had (Timothy Haskell) not pulled him out of the vehicle, the situation may have been completely different,” Augusta Deputy Fire Chief Dave Groder said.  “In our eyes, the gentleman and his wife are true heroes in this situation.”

The cause of the crash is under investigation, according to Augusta police Sgt. Christian Behr. An accident reconstruction was done by Maine State Police, which is standard for serious traffic accidents.

The speed zone in the area is 55 mph. Behr said that the area of the crash was not a construction zone, although work recently started to repave almost 13 miles of Route 3 between Church Hill Road in Augusta and China.

Groder said Booher was unresponsive when paramedics arrived. The Haskells had moved him about 50 feet from the vehicle, which was on fire under the hood when the call came in.

“They went through grave danger to get to the operator before the vehicle (became engulfed),” he said.

Groder said he could see the smoke of the fire from Lapointe Lumber Co., 1 to 2 miles away.

After hearing a loud bang, Haskell said, her husband went running to the accident while she first called 911.

“It took both of us to get him out,” Haskell said.

She said her husband suffered minimal injury, singeing some of his facial hair.

“When something like that happens, you just do it automatically,” Haskell said.

Groder said the Haskells were humble about receiving recognition. He said putting themselves in harm’s way to rescue a person is not a typical human reaction.

“Look at all those people who drove by,” he said.

Behr said the need for civilian help during such accidents isn’t common, but he thinks the desire to help is common.

“That’s just the culture we live in here in Maine,” he said. “People want to help other people.”

Haskell said there have been many accidents on the road, and four have happened near their home, where they have resided for 38 years.

“None have been this serious,” she said.

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