This Past Sunday – Meeting a Fellow Good American

Elderly woman rescued from burning car on RR 1431 by good Samaritans

MARBLE FALLS — All Kingsland resident Sharon Hooten was thinking about the morning of July 24 as she traveled west on RR 1431 between Marble Falls and Granite Shoals was getting home.

She never knew her journey would include a car exploding only minutes after she and another passerby helped pull the driver and sole occupant from the burning wreckage.

And that driver, 82-year-old Dorothy Yates-Book of Kingsland, said she will never forget what Hooten and Lisa Marie Coppoletta risked to save her life.

“They were fabulous. They were wonderful,” Yates-Book said July 25. “I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. I didn’t expect my car to catch fire.”

The episode began that Sunday when Hooten saw smoke billowing from a Lincoln Towncar headed in the opposite direction. Yates-Book — who was on her way to church in Marble Falls — seemed unaware of any danger, said Hooten, who is retired.

“I whipped around and was passing everybody by to get up to her,” Hooten said.

She was able to pull behind the woman as both vehicles stopped at the FM 1980 intersection about 10 a.m. But with her truck’s horn out of commission, Hooten had to jump out of her vehicle and race to the burning car.

As Hooten was trying to help the octagenarian get out, another driver — Coppoletta, a teacher at Austin Community College — saw the smoking car as well and turned around to offer assistance.

“The heat was terrible,” Yates-Book said. “I had my seat belt on, and I was trying to get out of it. One of the women walked up to me and hollered, ‘Get out of that car, it’s on fire!’ I was trying to do it. They wrapped their arms around me and pulled me out.”

Meanwhile, Yates-Books’ sedan started to move on its own.

“The little lady didn’t put the car into park (when getting out), and it was rolling back,” Hooten said.

Hooten had pulled up  behind the Lincoln while another vehicle stopped in the rear of her truck. The Lincoln eventually ran into Hooten’s pickup while she and Coppoletta rescued the older woman.

The pair said Yates-Book seemed dazed and may have suffered smoke inhalation.

Coppoletta said she worried that someone else might be in the Lincoln.

“It was so smoky you couldn’t see the steering wheel,” Coppoletta said. “I was looking in to see if anybody else was inside, but you just couldn’t tell.”

After asking the driver several times about other occupants, the motorist told her saviors she was alone.

The older driver said the experience was harrowing.

“They were awfully brave to do that, to run up to a car that was on fire and chuck open the door and pull somebody out,” Yates-Book said.

Meanwhile, other autos continued speeding past. Fearing for their safety, Hooten stepped into the road, put her hand out and ordered the vehicles to stop.

The duo also did what they could to move back any bystanders, Coppoletta said.

“We were just trying to make sure everybody was safe,” she said. “After it had sank in what we had done, it wasn’t just this woman (in danger) but all the people gathered in the circumference of this ticking time bomb.”

A quick-thinking man raced up to the burning sedan and placed a rock under a tire to prevent it from rolling after Hooten moved her truck.

“I wish I knew what his name was, but he risked his life to put that rock under the wheel,” she said.

The two women moved the driver and themselves across the road.

“Within two minutes of that, the car blew,” Hooten said.

The Marble Falls Area Volunteer Fire Department, Marble Falls Area EMS Inc. Granite Shoals Fire Department, Marble Falls police and Burnet County deputies responded to extinguish the blaze, offer treatment and begin an investigation.

The cause of the fire is unknown, Chief Terry White of the Marble Falls volunteers said.

Both Hooten and Coppoletta praised the emergency responders.

“I have to compliment the paramedics and the police officers,” Hooten said. “They were so wonderful and concerned. And the concern was genuine.”

It wasn’t until Coppoletta and Hooten stood by the ambulance that the impact of what had happened hit them.

“While this all was going on, we were very focused,” Coppoletta said. “It wasn’t until we got together at the EMS that we just hugged and broke down.”

Yates-Book said she will always be thankful for the help she received.

“I didn’t burn up,” Yates-Book said. “All these wonderful people that stopped to help me, I couldn’t believe it.”

Hooten then asked the rescued motorist if she needed a ride home.

“She told me, ‘You’d do that for me,'” Hooten said. “But she didn’t want to go home. She asked if I could still take her to church.”

And Hooten did.

Later, Yates-Book’s husband George joined her at church and comforted her, the 82-year-old said.

She is also convinced a higher power was looking out for her that Sunday morning.

“Before I left Sunday morning, I breathed a prayer that the Lord would give me a safe journey,” the Kingsland resident said. “He not only gave me a safe journey, but more than that, he worked a miracle.”

Staff Writer Connie Swinney contributed to this report.

“Terrific Twosome: Pair rescue woman from burning car” By Joseph Garcia, Highland Lakes Newspapers

When Sharon Hooten and Lisa Marie Coppoletta each saw a car with its engine smoking on Sunday, the two did not hesitate to put their lives at risk in a selfless act of heroism, saving a woman just before the vehicle exploded.

On Sunday morning just before 10 a.m., the two came across a car with smoke billowing out of its hood belonging to Kingsland resident Dorothy Book, while driving on FM 1431 near FM 1980, just outside Marble Falls.

“I was headed westbound on 1431,” said Hooten, a Kingsland resident. “At the FM 1980 light I saw a white older model car with smoke coming from the engine. I noticed when the car passed me, an elderly woman in the vehicle driving with the engine smoking.”

It was then that Hooten decided to take action.

“I whipped around in the middle of the road and bypassed other cars quickly to get up behind the woman,” Hooten explained. “I realized my horn was not working at the time. She was going really slow at this point so I jumped out of my car and ran up to her car to get the door open.”

Book said she knew there was something wrong with her car before it caught fire. She could not get the car to go more than 40 mph and cars were passing her left and right.

“All at once I realized (the car) was on fire,” Book said. “Smoke was coming out of the motor and the next thing I knew it really began to bubble up in my car. There were these cars all around me and this woman ran up and said ‘get out of the car it’s on fire.’ I had the door open and was trying to get my seatbelt unfastened and she just grabbed me and pulled me out. I was shocked and horrified it happened.”

Coppoletta, a Marble Falls resident, also saw the scene while driving, and had trouble trying to call authorities.

However, she did not delay in assisting Book.

“I tried to dial 9-11 but my batteries were dead,” Coppoletta said. I popped in a replacement battery and waited for my phone to reboot. I am not sure I placed the call or not because it was a panicky situation.”

Hooten said when Book opened the car door she did not have the car in park and was slowly rolling backwards.

“The car was rolling backwards when she was trying to get out of the car,” she said. “About that time my newfound friend Lisa Marie and I locked eyes and she assisted in helping Mrs. Book out of the car.”

Hooten said while in the act of the rescue there was so much smoke in the front seat, the two Good Samaritans could not tell if there was anyone else in the vehicle.

Mrs. Coppoletta was able to pull Mrs. Book out of the car and at the same time Mrs. Book’s car hit my car while it was on fire,” Hooten said.

The two women then pulled Book to safety just before the cab of the car caught fire.

“Then a gentleman out of the blue took all chances and put a rock behind the wheel of Mrs. Book’s car to keep it from hitting our cars,” Hooten said. “We were then able to back our cars up and get across the road within two minutes of the car exploding.”

Fire and EMS responders arrived on the scene just as the car was in full blaze.

“(The call) went out at 9:46 a.m. as a possible vehicle fire but when we were en route we were notified that the car was fully engulfed,” said Marble Falls Volunteer Fire Chief Terry White. “Granite Shoals Fire Department assisted us with mutual aid and we suppressed the fire. It was limited to the roadway so there was no grass fire involved.”

White said the fire was “very straightforward,” but the cause is still undetermined. No individuals were injured.

Following the averted disaster, the two rescuers shared a special bond after laying their lives on the line for a perfect stranger.

“After the emergency occurred we found each other at the EMS, looked at one another and couldn’t believe what we had accomplished,” Coppoletta said. “We just hugged each other and broke down crying. But, we were completely focused when the incident occurred.”

When all was said and done, Dorothy Book did not want to go home. She wanted to go to church, she said.

“I drove her to church because that’s where she was headed,” Hooten said. “It was an unbelievable adrenaline rush. I was very proud to be a part of it, and save someone’s life like that.”

Book thanks God and all those who helped her in her time of need.

“The people were wonderful; they were afraid I was going to burn up with the car,” Book confessed. “God truly blessed me.”