PETALING JAYA - With only seconds to spare, he pulled the motionless toddler out of a flaming wreckage only to see her turning blue from a lack of oxygen.
Fortunately, a few seconds was all Dr C.S. Kumar needed.
"The baby girl, who looked like she was 14 months old, was not breathing," said the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre orthopaedic trauma unit head.
"She was like a lifeless, blue doll. I put my ears onto her chest and heard her heart beating."
Dr Kumar quickly carried her to the middle of a highway to resuscitate her, using mouth-to-mouth and mouth-to-nose resuscitation.
"Looking down at her, I kept thinking 'please God, do not do this to me'.
"Fortunately, one-and-a-half minutes later, she began to cry," said the 41-year-old.
Recounting the drama which took place on Thursday at KM333.1 of the PLUS Expressway, between Tapah and Bidor, Dr Kumar, who is also a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, said he and his brother-in-law were driving with their families in two separate cars from Penang to Kuala Lumpur after a four-day holiday.
"A BMW and a Proton Waja collided, causing the Waja to burst into flames," he recalled.
Dr Kumar, a father-of-three, and his brother-in-law quickly pulled over at the emergency lane and rushed to the burning car.
"It didn't dawn on us then that there were still people in the car," he said.
"Together with other passers-by, we quickly broke down the windows.
"The driver's gave in first.
"I pulled out the driver with the help of my brother-in-law while the man in the passenger seat was pulled out by another passer-by," he said.
It was then that he saw the toddler and her mother in the back seat.
Dr Kumar said an ambulance, which was on its way towards another accident on the expressway, arrived shortly after.
Despite giving regular lectures on trauma, Dr Kumar said he had not witnessed an accident involving a flaming car.
He said he was glad that all four people in the Waja were safe.
"It was amazing to see fellow Malaysians, regardless of race, coming together to save lives," he said.
Tapah OCPD Supt Som Sak Din Keliaw said the driver of the Waja had wanted to switch lanes prior to the accident.
"The impact of the collision had damaged the gas tank, causing the vehicle to burst into flames," he said.
"The driver and passenger of the Waja sustained light injuries and received outpatient treatment at the Tapah Hospital."