Every 4Th Of July, millions of Americans across the country take the day off and gather for family barbeques and fireworks to celebrate America's independence from Great Britain in 1776, but unfortunately, for one 49-year-old man, his day was cut too short to reach his 4th of July destination.

Route 80 car accident in Rockaway, NJ

Around noon on Tuesday, accountant Michael O'Brien of Jersey City was parked on the right shoulder of Route 80 westbound and exited his Toyota FJ SUV to adjust his bicycle racks when a Buick SUV veered across several lanes into the shoulder and hit him and his vehicle.

The accident quickly turned into a fiery mess, as the Toyota was engulfed in flames. Good samaritan and former EMT and police officer, Duncan Smythe of Westfield, witnessed the crash and helped the driver and front seat passenger out of the Buick as smoke began coming out of the hood.

Police are investigating the accident, though no charges have been pressed at this time. They have confirmed that the driver was Barbara Potts, 72 and that rear-seat passenger Mary Briggs, 65, suffered extensive injuries and was rushed to Morristown Medical Center. It is reported that a dog was also in the back seat of the car at the time of the accident. Two lanes in Rockaway Township, New Jersey near exit 35 to the Rockaway Mall were closed for four hours as the site was cleaned up.

His girlfriend's thoughts

O'Brien's girlfriend, whom he had met through a friend four and a half years ago, Maya-Christina Vartiainen, watched the accident happen as she stood outside the vehicle alongside him. She said that they had noticed the bicycles swaying back and forth as they drove, so they pulled over to fix them. Furthermore, she said that neither of them saw the car coming, but he lay there with a severed leg, while she was unharmed by the crash that took her longtime boyfriend.

She said that she knew he was dead, but she couldn't stay by his side because of the dangerous flames.

O'Brien's legacy

O'Brien and Vartiainen were on their way to his sister's house in Budd Lake to visit her and her sons for the holiday. Vartiainen described O'Brien as an extremely happy person and a good man who loved to laugh, and that he will be missed very deeply by her and the rest of his loved ones. The two used to share thoughtful good morning and good night text messages, something that she has been struggling to live without in the days since the horrific accident.