By Janet Tappin Coelho
A quick-thinking bus driver dodged disaster after a spectacular crash left a biker with his pants on fire and his motorbike ablaze.
The dramatic incident, captured on security cameras in a tunnel in Rio de Janerio on Thursday (30 March), shows the moment the fearless motorist Raphael Neves Teixeira, puts his own life at risk.
Grabbing a fire extinguisher from his bus, Raphael is seen dousing the desperate biker Artevaldo de Sousa, 35, as flames licked around the victim’s legs.
He then sprinted to the blazing vehicle, and despite the risk to his life from an explosion, Raphael stands his ground and single-handedly smothers the raging fire.
The bus-driver said he was travelling down the central lane in the Reboucas Tunnel when he saw the motorcyclist skidding out of control in his rear view mirror.
According to reports, Artevaldo’s motorbike started leaking petrol and the bike caught fire as it slid and sparked on the tarmac.
Within seconds the vehicle was a fireball of flames in one of the busiest tunnels in Rio that sees more than 200,000 vehicles a-day passing through.
Raphael, who drives the 461 bus route between the tourist hotspot of Ipanema in the south and Sao Cristovao in the north of the city, was on his last journey of the day at 7:30pm.
He said: “Our training leaves us prepared for any eventuality, but I had never seen anything like it,” he said.
“I did not think twice, I stopped the bus and grabbed the extinguisher then ran with it to put out the fire. It was obvious motorcyclist needed help.
He was desperate.”
Footage shows vehicles, including Raphael’s bus, coming to halt as the bike skids down the road and bursts into flames behind a line of traffic and in front of approaching cars.
Artevaldo scrambles away from blaze with his clothes alight and runs frantically around the bus as he desperately tries to put out the rising flames that have taken hold on his pants.
A terrified taxi driver, who doesn’t know what to do, jumps out of his cab and races around the other side of the vehicle away from the panicking victim who is thrashing around in a frenzied bid to survive.
At that moment, up rushes Raphael and tackles the unfolding incident in an act of pure courage and cool-headedness.
Artevaldo was taken to Miguel Couto Municipal Hospital in Gávea and later discharged following treatment for minor burn injuries.
His charred bike was recovered by the fire brigade.
According to fire emergency crew, Raphael’s prompt actions prevented a major disaster.
In a statement the brigade said the bus driver’s bravery not only saved the life of the victim but saved the lives of other motorists present in the tunnel at the time of the accident.
Hundreds of comments on the bus company’s website praised the Raphael’s quick actions with some calling for him to be rewarded with promotion and a commendation.