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Steve Dykes/Getty Brandon Bair
A retired NFL player is being hailed as a hero after he leapt into action and pulled a helpless driver to safety following a fiery car accident.
Brandon Bair, 36, says he was among the first on the scene Thursday when a train struck a semi truck, causing it to burst into flames with the driver trapped inside, he told East Idaho News.
Bair, a defensive end, played for the Oakland Raiders in 2012 and spent two years with the Philadelphia Eagles before retiring in 2015.
"All I can say is this guy was supposed to live," he told East Idaho News. "I'm a man of faith, and I've learned to listen to your gut and the promptings you get. The lord wanted him alive."
The incident occurred just before 6 p.m. local time as Steven Jenson, 25, was driving westbound on E 400 N in a 1995 semi-truck, the Idaho State Police said in a press release. Jenson failed to yield to a train, which then struck his truck's passenger side.
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Bair said he was driving to work when he saw the moment of impact, and quickly jumped out of his car and raced across the highway to the scene, where smoke had already begun to fill the air and Jenson's truck was already engulfed in flames.
"There was an explosion right away and the train was pushing the truck down the tracks," Bair told the outlet. "I got on the phone with 911 and started driving down the median to get to the front of the train when it stopped."
The athlete said that once he heard Jenson's voice from inside the truck, he knew what he had to do, and quickly made moves to unpin him from the driver's seat and extract him via a small rear window.
"It was a conscious decision that I'm going in because he needs help right now," Bair told East Idaho News. "I ran up to the window and saw dripping hot flames all over inside of the truck. I could see a guy in a seatbelt and was able to reach in and get it off of him. He was talking, and I told him we had to get out of here now."
Bair said he climbed in halfway and with Jenson's help broke the steering wheel, allowing him to pull Jenson to safety. Seconds later, Bair claimed, the entire truck went up in flames, and "a couple big booms" and explosions followed.
Idaho State Police said that Jenson was "pulled from the vehicle by bystanders on scene," then transported by air ambulance to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
Though the entire incident lasted less than three minutes, Bair — who was not injured save for a few scratches — said he recognized the gravity of the situation as he called his wife while driving home.
"I was able to hold it together and be tough, but then I got a little shaky when I heard her voice. Being able to go home and put my arms around my kids — it hit me," he told East Idaho News. "You never know what's going to happen in life, and this shows you should hug your family every chance you get."
A native of Idaho, Bair reportedly moved back to the state upon leaving the NFL, and now lives in St. Anthony with his wife and four daughters and works as the general manager of Henry's Fork Homes.