Toyota is swooping in to help a nurse whose truck was incinerated when he repeatedly drove straight through the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., risking his own life to rescue people from Adventist Health Feather River, where he manages the intensive care unit.
Allyn Pierce had been trying to escape the blaze when a “wall of fire” threatened to engulf his Toyota Tundra on Monday, according to the New York Times. Fearing the worst, he recorded a heartbreaking goodbye message to his family, ensuring them that he tried his best to get out. “I just kept thinking, ‘I’m going to die in melting plastic,” he told the Times.
Then, miraculously, a bulldozer came along and cleared a path — but instead of driving forward to save himself, Pierce saw an opportunity to save many. So he made a U-turn and headed right back to the hospital to retrieve and provide medical assistance to patients, colleagues and victims from the surrounding area. In the process, his beloved Tundra took a beating — the flames and severe heat burned and even melted the vehicle beyond recognition.
An Instagram account Pierce set up in 2017 for his truck — which he calls the Pandra — shows photos of the Tundra on its many adventures, but the most recent one shows the vehicle in the aftermath of the disaster. “Here’s my @toyotausa commercial. This truck literally saved my life today,” Pierce writes. My little town of Paradise was literally burning down around me and @the_pandra got me to safety where I could help others … twice.”
In a post that’s now gone viral, Pierce continued, “Thanks to the fire fighters, law enforcement and my fellow healthcare workers for the work we all did getting the hospital evacuated and our patients to safety.”
The exterior of the white truck is charred in places, which probably prompted Pierce to dub the vehicle “Custom Campfire Marshmallow” in its Instagram bio. Though the nurse has a sense of humor about the truck, Tundras cost a pretty penny to replace: a 2019 model has an MSRP starting at $33,220. And the vehicle wasn’t even the most valuable thing Pierce lost in the California wildfires — his family’s home has been destroyed too.
So a friend set up a GoFundMe to raise funds to help Pierce and his family recover financially from the California wildfires. The page has already exceeded its goal, raising more than $23,000 as of Wednesday afternoon. But something else happened thanks to Pierce’s bravery — and his viral Instagram post. Toyota got wind of it and decided to extend an offer to Pierce — a brand-new, free Toyota Tundra.
“We are humbled you’d risk your life and Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety. Don’t worry about the truck, we’re honored to get you a new one!” the company commented on his post. Pierce responded, “No words…” adding shocked and thankful emojis to express his feelings instead.
Karen Nielsen, a representative for Toyota, told Yahoo Lifestyle, “I can tell you that our hearts go out to the victims of the devastating California wildfires. We are extremely grateful to all of the emergency crews who are working tirelessly to extinguish the fires and helping people to safety. We are especially thankful to one hero in particular, Allyn Pierce, for risking his life and sacrificing his Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety. Toyota is so humbled by Mr. Pierce’s selfless act that we’re pleased to offer him a brand-new Tundra.”
When asked whether Pierce officially accepted the gift, Nielsen said, “The offer has been extended, and since this all just happened, the details are still being worked out.” Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to Pierce and will update this story when we hear back.
In the meantime, thousands of grateful Instagram commenters are promising their loyalty to Toyota — while Pierce is being showered with praise from far and wide. He remains humble, though. “It’s what anyone would do in that situation,” he responded to one commenter. Another congratulated him on being “a true hero,” to which he responded, “So many worked together that day: fire, law, medics, docs and us nurses.”
And though he says he’s not even sure where his job stands while Adventist Health Feather River Hospital recovers from damages, the GoFundMe page is still accepting donations — and he even struggled with the decision to promote it. Pierce seems confident that one way or another, his family will make it through. “We will be fine,” he wrote. “It will all work out, because it has to.”
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