A MUM has thanked two personal assistants after they rescued her disabled son from his mobility van that went up in flames and “saved his life”.

Sam Higgin, of Ormiston, who suffers from daily seizures, was travelling in his specially-adapted van alongside Tracey Stevenson and Sheryl Campbell when the vehicle was engulfed in flames between Boggs Holdings and Pencaitland on Monday.

Just “three minutes” after Tracey and Sheryl first smelled smoke, the van was destroyed by the fire.

Sam’s mum Jacqueline praised the duo for their efforts.

She told the Courier: “Sam has had several life-threatening events.

“He had sepsis and he recovered, he had pneumonia and he recovered, he has been in epileptic status and recovered.

“The thought of not being able to get him out [of the van] is too much to think about. I’m eternally grateful – they saved his life.”

Sam was diagnosed with severe epilepsy when he was 14 months old.

Since then, Sam, who was in an electric wheelchair, has also been diagnosed with autism, learning difficulties, scoliosis and cellulitis, which almost saw him die four years ago, as well as diabetes.

Each day, Tracey, of Musselburgh, and Sheryl, of Gorebridge, take Sam, 25, for a drive in the Vauxhall Vivaro, which was about 18 months old, to see trains near Longniddry.

They were returning to Sam’s Ormiston home on George Crescent on Monday at about 2.30pm and had passed through Boggs Holdings when they noticed a smell.

Tracey, Sam’s team leader, told the Courier they became aware of smoke coming out of the dashboard and the smell of burning rubber.

Immediately they pulled over but, as Tracey went to check under the bonnet, her colleague noticed a spark and urged her to step back.

Tracey, 45, said: “Sheryl told me not to lift the bonnet and we went into rescue mode.

“Basically, we got Sam out of the van.  Sheryl ran to phone for the fire brigade and I just went in the back of the van and took the straps off him to get him out.

“I was dragging him as well as pulling the wheelchair to get him away.

“We realised things were popping, the tyres were going to go and we put his wheelchair up to the highest speed and started running along the road with him.

“The van was engulfed with flames – if we had not stopped, if we had gone around the corner, it would have been a lot worse.”

Tracey and Sheryl then phoned Jacqueline, who was visiting her mum in Tranent.

Jacqueline, who has been a full-time carer for Sam since he was born, said: “They said they had got him out but I needed to see him to make sure.”

Jacqueline, 52, praised the fire brigade for their quick response and also a Boggs Holdings resident for putting Sam and his carers up while they awaited transport to get home.

Sam and his powered wheelchair were unable to get through the door and instead the resident gave him blankets and heaters to keep warm before Sam finally made it home at about 4.45pm.

An investigation will be carried out into the cause of the fire and a new van will be provided through the Motability scheme.

Jacqueline said Sam had “no physical injuries but he did get a fright”.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, she said: “He is having a nice, lazy day.

“He does not really realise what he has been through.

“I’m not one for blowing trumpets but for what the girls did – they saved him.”

A spokeswoman for Motability said: “We cannot comment on individual cases.

“However, once a customer has contacted us to report an incident, we aim to provide them with a replacement vehicle to suit their needs.

"Due to the specialised and converted nature of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs), it may not be possible to provide a like-for-like wheelchair accessible replacement vehicle.

"However, we will try to find an alternative solution to support the customer’s continuous mobility.”