VIRGINIA BEACH -- Officers investigated a crash that killed 62-year-old Katherine Allen and left an off-duty firefighter seriously hurt Saturday.
Police received calls about the wreck near Princess Anne and Jarvis Roads at about 7:30 a.m.
A preliminary investigation determined that a pick-up truck, driven by Allen, was heading north on Princess Anne Road when it went off to the right side of the road.
Allen attempted to get back onto the roadway, then crossed into the southbound lane and hit another truck head on.
The driver of the second truck was an off-duty Virginia Beach firefighter who was on his way to work.
His truck caught fire.
“You could see the fire growing," said John Malkowski. "That's when we knew we had to get him."
Malkowksi was driving to work when he saw the two trucks on the side of the road. He was among the people in the area who found themselves moving into rescue mode.
"We couldn't get the driver's door open, so we got the passenger door open, pulled the gentleman to safety right before the car burst into flames, and then our concern was the lady in the other car," Malkowski told 13News Now.
Allen was unconscious, and pinned in the wreckage.
"The only thing we could do -- because we couldn't get her out -- was we got a tow rope, and I drove my truck in, and we hooked it up to the tow rope to pull her vehicle apart from each other to keep the flames from spreading into her vehicle," Malkowski said.
Allen, who lived in Virginia Beach, died at the scene marked by flowers late Saturday.
Paramedics took the firefighter to the hospital with serious injuries, including a foot that was nearly severed. He underwent surgery during which doctors were able to reattach his foot.
He and his family expressed their gratitude to the rescuers for their efforts pulling him to safety.
The crash remains under investigation.