Officers Risk Their Lives to Save Man From Burning Home

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AKRON, Ohio - Alerted by a 9-1-1 caller of a house fire on Adelaide Boulevard, Akron police officers Chris Crockett and Derek Jackson were first to arrive at the scene early Tuesday.

The officers already knew from the caller that someone was supposed to still be in the house.

Arriving before firefighters, they didn't hesitate to do what they felt had to be done.

"When we arrived at the house we could see smoke pouring out of the house," said Crockett, adding officer Jackson, who was working with me that night,jumped out of the cruiser before I even got it into park."

Jackson, who has only been a police officer for less than a month, said the only thing that was going through his mind was to get the person out of the house.

"I jumped out while the car was almost rolling still and as I ran up to the front I could see the front door was open."

Smoke started pouring out of the front door and then I just ran into it and started yelling the person's name and I could hear coughing so I started making my way through the home," said Jackson.

His partner was not far behind.

"There's no protocol.I guess it's an individual thing but we are all first responders and I guess you could say that when we know there is somebody still inside and there's a chance for us to save him we're going to do it," said Crockett.

"The entire house was full of smoke," said Crockett. "You really couldn't see a foot in front of you whether it was down low or up high you really couldn't see within a foot you couldn't see so even with a flashlight you were really going by feel and sound once you were inside the home."

Crockett says he had a breathing mask because of his work with the city's methamphetamine task force.

He insisted Jackson get out of the house and ran back to the car to get his mask.

"I actually had to force officer Jackson out of the house," said Crockett.

"I could hear a little bit of coughing but I couldn't really tell where it was coming from at the time. I wasn't thinking about myself. I was going in there to actually find him, then my partner, Officer Crockett was screaming for me to actually exit, he's like Jackson get out, Jackson get out so I turned around and got out," said Jackson.

Crockett says he went back in with his breathing mask and literally stumbled over the victim who was laying on the ground in a hallway.

"I actually tripped over him basically in the hallway. He was no longer coughing you know. I couldn't even hear him breathing. I actually felt him when I kicked him. I was able to grab him by his pant leg and pull him out to the front door," said Crockett.

Paramedics took the man to a local hospital for treatment. Firefighters say the fire was burning in the basement.

Fire Captain Al Bragg says all smoke is dangerous and so the officers had literally placed themselves in harm's way trying to save the victim.

"We are safety forces. We are sworn to serve and protect the people of the city of Akron and sometimes that means risking something. You risk a lot to save a lot, you don't risk much to save nothing, so he looked at that situation, I'm sure, as a life that was worth a risk and he acted quickly and it was a good outcome," said Bragg.

Crockett and Jackson say they didn't even stop to think about what they were doing until after the fact.

"They acted swiftly and the patient is alive today," said Bragg, concluding "we don't know that would have been the case if (they) hadn't have acted so swiftly."

Still learning from his brief time on the job, Jackson said if he had to do it all over again he wouldn't hesitate to do the same thing.

"We got there we knew what needed to be done, and we just did it."