A horrific crash on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge yesterday morning could have been even worse if not for a resourceful good Samaritan who used a garbage truck winch to extricate a badly injured woman from the front of a totaled box truck. Six people were injured in a collision between two trucks shortly after 6 a.m. Box truck driver Li Zeliang, 44, and passenger Jie Xie, were in the truck owned by the Wah Farm Produce Company when it rear-ended the garbage truck. Zeliang managed to get out, but Xie was pinned inside with her hair on fire.

MTA Bridge and Tunnel Chief James Fortunato, who happened to be crossing the bridge at the time, was the first on the scene, according to the Post. He helped Zeliang escape, but couldn't extricate Xie. Two first responders were able to douse the flames engulfing her with fire extinguishers, but the truck was leaking fuel and kept catching fire. The Staten Island Advance has a harrowing report:

Fortunato soon realized they were running out of time to free her. So he crawled underneath the truck. "I said, 'I've got one shot at this.' I go under the truck while it's still on fire. ... I see a piece of chassis that I can get with the cable," he said.

Fortunato then hitched the winch to it and had the garbage truck driver pull the box truck off the railing. By then, the FDNY had arrived, and officers were able to remove the woman, "which they would not have been able to do if the truck was still crushed against the right-hand-lane railing," Ms. Glave said.

The woman was transported to Staten Island University Hospital, Ocean Breeze, where she's in critical condition. The Advance reports that "many of the bones in her face were broken and shattered, and she suffered deep cuts and severe burns throughout her body."

The driver of the box truck, the driver of the garbage truck, and several others were treated for non-life threatening injuries, including Fortunato, who sustained minor burns and smoke inhalation. "She's got a 50-50 chance," he tells the Advance. "I'm agonizing over her condition but I would be agonizing worse if I stopped [trying to help]."