By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The quick-thinking of a Twin Cities car salesman likely saved a truck driver’s life.

In the middle of a busy Wednesday afternoon at Roseville Chrysler Dodge and Jeep, Deno Yannarelli went from salesman to hero.

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He saw a truck driver hit a signpost on 35W, and when he saw the driver was in danger, he ran to help.

“I just wanted to get to the driver,” Deno Yannarelli said. “I started running and then it went ablaze.”

The driver initially got out, but when the truck caught fire, he ran back to the semi to try and get a fire extinguisher.

“Then it blew up, and he became engulfed in the flames,” Yannarelli said. “I jumped the fence and jumped on top of him and held him down.”

As Yannarelli tried to smother the flames, the truck exploded, shooting smoke and fire into the air.

Yannarelli and another man then carried the truck driver about 40 yards.

Fortunately, there was an opening in a fence. They pulled the driver through and then laid him on the bed of a truck.

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“I threw him on the back of a tailgate,” Yannarelli said. “He was burned from here and here.”

Yannarelli then took off his shirt and put it on the man to help with the burns until paramedics arrived.

Yannarelli’s quick thinking and courage got the attention of his co-workers.

“He’s always been a great guy but, really, it shows somebody’s true character, how he sprang into action like that,” said the dealership’s owner, David Golinvaux. “I’m extremely proud of him and extremely proud that he’s working for me here at the store.”

“The guy helped me over there,” Yannarelli said. “Anybody would help. It was something that had to be done. We are just glad we could be there for him.”

Yannarelli gives a lot of credit to the salesman at the dealership next door, who helped him rescue the driver.

The 44-year-old Blaine truck driver, Alfie Foster, is listed in serious condition at Hennepin County Medical Center.

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A trust fund has been set up for Foster at Wells Fargo Bank.

John Lauritsen