Good Samaritan describes trying to rescue woman on fire

58-year-old died after suffering burns Saturday night

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 58-year-old Jacksonville woman who was found on fire Saturday night in Arlington has died, the woman's family told a Good Samaritan who pulled her from a wooded area.

Melissa Settles said she saw Mary Ann Gill burning in a brush fire at Colcord Avenue and Arlington Expressway and didn't think twice about going in to help her.

Settles (pictured, below on right), a nurse practitioner, said she took the short off her back to try to smother the flames that were burning Gill's body.

Settles said she feels guilty she couldn't have done more to save Gill's life. But what's giving her comfort is that she was able to meet with the woman's family Monday, a family who says they believe God sent her there at just the right time.

"She just kept saying, 'Baby, I'm hurting, baby, I'm hurting,'" Settles said.

Those three words are ones she said she will never forget.

"I said, 'Can I pull you out of the fire,'" Settles said. "She said yes. Her arms were not on fire, so I grabbed her by her arms and I dragged her. There was a little bit of an embankment, so I pulled her up the embankment and then off to the side of the road next to the sidewalk, and Her body was still on fire."

Just minutes before, Settles was driving on an Arlington Expressway service road when she saw a brush fire in woods near the road.

When she took a closer look, she realized there was a woman inside.

"It was hard enough to sit there and watch her with her legs on fire," Settles said. "I could not have sat there until rescue arrive and watched her burn in those flames. I couldn't have done it. There's no way."

Settles said she took off her shirt and put it on Gill's chest to stop the flames from spreading, then covered the woman's legs in reusable plastic bags from her van to smother the flames on her legs.

"I was trying to wave people down. I was trying to find somebody to help me as I waited on the fire tucks to come," Settles said.

Firefighters arrived and took Gill to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, but she later died.

Settles was despondent and tried all weekend to get in touch with the woman's family with no success. But on Monday, she finally got the call she was waiting on.

"They were very appreciative, and I feel like God had put me here to help her and I guess intake comfort in that," Settles said.

Gill's son wanted people to know his mother was well-loved and died with her family by her side.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detectives and the state Fire Marshal's office are investigating.

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