Missouri Highway Patrol hopes to identify men who pulled driver from fiery wreck

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – A witness shared the exclusive video with FOX 2 of a daring rescue at the scene of Wednesday morning’s fiery crash on Highway 370 in St. Charles.

Authorities hope to thank the two heroes that saved a man’s life, according to witness Ben Craven.

A single-vehicle crash led to a diesel fuel leak out and massive fire on westbound Hwy. 370 near Elm around 7:30 a.m.

The westbound lanes of 370 were closed for about eight hours to clear the scene and clean up what was left of a diesel fuel leak.

Before first responders arrived, Craven started recording with his phone. He had been headed to his nearby business, Craven Performance & Off-Road LLC (which builds high end performance cars). He feared his multi-million-dollar fleet was burning when he first saw the smoke.

As he got closer, the true picture emerged. He was too far away to help but captured another driver running toward the flames. Another man was already trying to help the driver of the crashed tractor-trailer, who appeared to be trapped.

The two men helped that driver get out of the cab of his truck with smoke already pouring out below it. They walked him to the median wall to check on him.

Within 20 seconds, flames were shooting through the cab. Within 10 minutes, fuel tanks erupted into fireballs. The cab was gone.

“In 2021 in America, to see somebody run into fire…that cab was already on fire when they got there to try to help that guy,” Craven said. “Deep down, I truly believe in America. It’s a country full of selfless people who are willing to put themselves on the line for something they may be able to achieve that’s bigger than themselves. In that moment, it was saving another man’s life…and seeing something like that kind of checks your perspective pretty quick and lets you know what really matters.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol identified the tractor-trailer driver as Curtis Vancleave, 46, of Indianapolis. His vehicle left one side of the highway then the other before he crashed into the center median wall. His vehicle overturned then caught fire, according to state police. He was taken to a hospital to be checked out for minor injuries.

As of early Wednesday evening, authorities had yet to identify the two men who came to Vancleave’s aid.