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story.lead_photo.caption Jacob Ellis, who broke his ring finger in football practice and had surgery on it last week, rescued to people from a burning vehicle just several days later. Photo by Submitted

A senior at Westminster College hopes his heroic actions earlier this week will inspire people to help those in need.

"I feel like knowing people needed help is what made me act," said Jacob Ellis, a student who also plays on the college football team. "I'm an Eagle Scout. I grew up with loving parents who raised us up right and taught us to stay humble and help others."

Ellis witnessed a traffic accident Sunday while traveling from Fulton to Columbia.

"After church, I had just got done eating brunch and I was heading to Columbia to visit family," he said. "I took WW, and on J in Millersburg, I saw a head-on car collision. I saw it happen."

Acting on instinct, Ellis immediately pulled over to make sure everyone was OK.

 It was then he noticed a driver and a passenger in a truck were in danger.

"The driver's side of the car had been smashed in, and it caught fire. I saw flames under the hood, so I ran to the passenger side, (the driver and passenger) were in shock. I helped (the passenger) out of the vehicle and got her across the street, then I went back for her husband."

The passenger was Pat Maxwell, of Fulton. Her husband, Bob, was still in the burning vehicle. Ellis said he quickly ran back to help him.

"His legs were pinned up in the dash. The first time I reached to grab him, he didn't move," he added. "I told him the truck was on fire, and I grabbed him under the arms and pulled him out and onto the grass. At this point, the hood was completely on fire."

After helping Bob Maxwell to safety, Ellis was informed Pat's purse containing needed medicine was still in the vehicle.

Without hesitation, Ellis ran back and picked it up.

"It all happened so fast, it was a blur," he added. "I talked to Bob and Pam Maxwell afterwards. He has a broken wrist and Pam suffered a heart attack. The truck they were driving was going to be their moving truck."

Throughout the whole affair, Ellis said it didn't occur to him that he was doing something out of the ordinary.

"It wasn't until other people arrived that it dawned on me I had done something special," he said. "Just me thinking; it seemed like a normal thing to do."

When he heard about the upcoming move for the Maxwells, Ellis jumped in to offer another helping hand.

"I told him we could get my teammates to his house to pack boxes and get them loaded," he said. "This is an everyday thing people should do. My teammates embraced what happened. Them being able to help off the field helps us even greater on the field."

Ellis and teammates will help the Maxwells move this weekend, he said.

In order to help in times of crisis, a person needs to feel a deeper connection with those around them, Ellis said.

"It takes selflessnes and it takes wanting to be able to achieve something for the common good and not for yourself," he added. "People should not strive for acts of heroism but have a connection with something greater than themselves."

Above all else, Ellis said he wants people to have to courage to help someone in need and have a positive influence on the world.

"The message is don't take life for granted," he said. "Every chance you get to impact someone's life and do something positive, you should rise to the occasion. It might be scary, but it just might be a great thing."