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    Amid grief, gratitude for a near-rescue

    An emotional Regina Lewis stood near the tree on Brush Hill Road where the youngest of her six children died in a fiery car crash early Friday.
    John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
    An emotional Regina Lewis stood near the tree on Brush Hill Road where the youngest of her six children died in a fiery car crash early Friday.

    MILTON — Regina Lewis had to do it.

    She had to come to the place on Brush Hill Road where the youngest of her six children died in a fiery car crash early Friday morning. She had to make sure the stranger who had risked his life in a failed attempt to save her daughter, who had just celebrated her 24th birthday, knew how much she appreciated his courage.

    John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
    Regina Lewis and Andy Melhado embraced on Melhado’s front porch.

    So around 11 a.m. Friday, the Roslindale woman walked onto the front porch of Andy Melhado’s home on Brush Hill Road and hugged the man who had frantically tried to extricate Nina Lewis, mother of three young children, from the crumpled, burning car hours before.

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    “I am still in shock right now because her body is burnt beyond recognition and I am unable to see her,’’ Regina Lewis said moments after meeting with Melhado and Melhado’s wife, Grace, who also tried to save those in the car. “I just had to thank the neighbor that tried to save them. I had to reach out to them.’’

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    State Police said Nina Lewis was in the driver’s seat of a 2014 Mercedes-Benz sedan around 3:30 a.m. when, for reasons still under investigation, the car went off the road and smashed into a tree in front of the Melhado home.

    Nina Lewis’s front-seat passenger, who Regina Lewis said owned the car and was her daughter’s boyfriend, was also killed. State Police identified him as Neon Allen, 23, of Mattapan. A 17-year-old riding in the rear seat escaped with Melhado’s help. Authorities did not name the teen. Nina Lewis lived in Dorchester, State Police said.

    “I’m not a firefighter or a hero,’’ a somber Melhado said before meeting with Regina Lewis. “I just did what I would do for anyone.’’

    Regina Lewis said her daughter, whose three children are ages 3, 4, and 5, worked for a health clinic in the Neponset section of Dorchester and was planning to become a registered nurse.

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    She did not know who the teenage passenger was, she said, but said her daughter and Allen were coming from a party. Allen also had celebrated his birthday recently.

    “I am just going to start making [funeral] plans now,’’ Regina Lewis said.

    Allen’s older brother, Bugzy, told WCVB-TV that his sibling worked as an armed security guard and was also a DJ. The Allen family could not be reached for further comment.

    John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
    Grace Mehlado showed a picture she took of the fiery wreck from her front porch.

    According to State Police, Melhado’s rescue attempt was made at “a significant risk” to his own safety. Flames charred the bark on the tree some 20 feet upward. The fire was so hot it melted utility wires in front of the Melhados’ home.

    Melhado said that when he ran onto his front lawn, he tried to put out the fire in the rear of the car with a home fire extinguisher, then heard the sound of someone banging on the glass of the closed back window on the driver’s side.

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    He said he used the fire extinguisher to smash the window, then reached inside and pulled the 17-year-old passenger out by his pants. He was rushed to Boston Medical Center for treatment of burns.

    Melhado then turned his attention to the man and woman in the front. Nina Lewis appeared to be unconscious. Allen was moving but not responding to the fire that was growing every second.

    Melhado said he tried to pull both of them out, but the Mercedes had crumpled around their legs, trapping them inside. When the flames became too strong, Melhado was forced to step away for his own safety.

    A small memorial of flowers and lit candles was at the scene on Friday night.

    Interviewed before his meeting with Lewis, Melhado was calm, but clearly distressed over the ordeal. He said he had learned how to respond to car fires from Boston firefighters he met while working as director of security for Allied Universal in Boston.

    “I just feel regret and loss for the families,’’ he said. “My own issues, I’ll come to grips with that.’’

    The memorial at the tree on Brush Hill Road where two people died early Friday.
    Travis Anderson/Globe staff
    The memorial at the tree on Brush Hill Road where two people died early Friday.

    Travis Andersen and John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen. John Tlumacki can be reached at john.tlumacki@globe.com.