Teen recovering from fiery crash turns to Problem Solvers

SEATTLE - The KOMO 4 Problem Solvers are trying to help a teen from Rochester who got rear-ended and had to be rescued from a burning jeep. Andy Sommer is now recovering at Harborview Medical Center, with his family by his side.

"We've had a really good day," his mother, Kelly Sommer, said. "It was his 17th birthday today and I think half the community came up to see him."

Spending a birthday in a hospital bed didn't dampen Sommer's spirits. His mom says he seemed happier than many of his visitors.

"He ended up really consoling us more than us him. he has a really strong spirit," she said.

Washington State Patrol says a truck rear-ended Sommer's jeep last week while he waited to make a left on Highway 12 in Rochester. The jeep flew forward and collided head-on with a pickup, then burst into flames. Off-duty firefighter Travis Crear just happened to be nearby, and pulled Sommer from the car before he burned to death.

"Definitely has hit me at the heart," Crear said.

Sommer has extensive burns on his hands, thighs, and the back of his head and neck but improved enough to come off the ventilator. That helped the popular student athelete talk to all the visitors who showed up to wish him a happy birthday.

"The outpouring from the community, it just lifted his spirits," said his dad Rob Sommer.

The 17-year-old's mom has stayed by his side since the accident and plans to keep up her vigil through his upcoming surgeries. The family reached out to the Problem Solvers as they set up a fund to help with daily expenses and try to fix what they consider a dangerous intersection.

"We're really hoping that we can make a difference and get that thing changed," she said. "A turning lane or flashing yellow (light) or something."

State Patrol believes the trucker, Steven Johnson of Vancouver, wasn't paying attention to the road. He could be charged with negligent driving.

"I actually feel sorry for the man, because he's got to live with what happened," Rob Sommer said.

The Problem Solvers want to help Sommer and his family. If you want to get involved, you can make a donation to the Problem Solvers fund, and we'll be sure it gets to his family.