A California police officer hauled a disoriented woman out of a burning car with seconds to spare, in a dramatic late-night rescue captured on his body camera.
The crash and the rescue played out late on Saturday, Oct. 17, off the I-80 highway near Davis, Calif., according to police. It’s unclear how the crash happened, but Davis police showed up to find the mangled and overturned car burning in a field beside the highway.
Police Cpl. Pheng Ly says witnesses had stopped to help with the crash, but none of them appeared willing to brave the flames.
“The Good Samaritans weren’t going to go in because of how dangerous and volatile the situation was, and I understand that,” he told CBS Sacramento.
“I realized her life was dependent upon my actions in the next 30-60 seconds and I needed to do something right away.”
Ly’s bodycam video shows the burning car as he runs toward it and calls out to see who is inside.
“Is anybody in there?” he shouts in the video.
A woman can be heard screaming, and Ly and his fellow officer quickly determine that she is alone.
Ly crouches beside the car’s broken window and tells the woman to crawl out.
“Come out, hurry up!” he says.
She flings an arm out and says “I am, I’m coming,” in a slurred voice.
“Get out now! Hurry! Get out of the car!” Ly shouts.
Ly later told CBS Sacramento that he knew he was in a precarious situation.
“I could feel the heat of the fire on the right side my face,” he said.
“I told myself I was not going to fail this woman. I was going to get her out of that car no matter what.”
The video shows Ly grabbing the woman by both wrists and dragging her to a safe distance several metres from the car. The woman appears disoriented in the video, and her speech is occasionally incoherent.
“Please let go of me,” she says during the rescue. “I’m tired. Please let me go.”
Ly says he was concerned the vehicle might blow up.
The unidentified woman was taken to hospital after the crash and later arrested for allegedly driving under the influence.
No one else was in the car and the officers were not injured in the rescue.
Davis Deputy Police Chief Paul Doroshov said he wasn’t surprised to hear about Ly’s heroic actions.
“That’s just the kind of guy that he is,” Doroshov told Fox 40. “He truly has a deep heart and love for it. I’m not surprised at all.”
He added that the 21-year veteran will likely receive a life-saving award for his quick actions.
“Had she not been out of there within moments, that car’s fully engulfed,” Doroshov said of the rescue. “I believe she would’ve been deceased.”
The police department also hailed Ly on Facebook.
“Thank you, Corporal Ly for running into danger to save a life,” the department wrote on Tuesday. “We are a little extra proud today.”
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