Police on daring rescue: ‘You couldn’t really breathe because of the smoke’

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UNIONTOWN, Ohio - Two Uniontown police officers are credited with saving the life of a man who was trapped inside his burning car.

Police say they were called to the Hartville Marketplace on Monday after a man pulled into the parking lot and apparently blacked out behind the wheel of his red Ford Explorer.

Marion Coblentz, the President of the Hartville Marketplace, was at work waiting for a visit from his son and grandson.

"They saw it practically happen out there. The guy pulled in and hit another guy and (they) heard the engine racing because his foot was on the throttle and he came running in and said a car is smoking out there," said Coblentz.

Coblentz said he grabbed a hook they have to unlock car doors and ran outside in time to see the car erupt into flames.

"Definitely praying while I was doing everything I could and heard people yelling at me 'get back,' 'it's going to blow up,' because they saw the flames shooting in the air and didn't know what was going to happen.

Realizing there was someone still inside he asked employees to grab fire extinguishers and help.

"I tried opening the door. I couldn't get it open after we got the flames subsided we started breaking some of the windows the one guy broke the back window, I broke the door window and I was trying to break into the window where he was at and I couldn't get through and that's when the police showed up."

Dash camera video shows what Sgt. Mike Batchik saw when he arrived on the scene.

Heavy smoke virtually concealing the entire SUV.

Batchik ran to grab a window punch to break through the driver's side door window.

Captain Dave Brown was next on the scene.

"Zero visibility. You couldn't really breathe because of the smoke so we did it by hand, just reaching through the windows to see if we felt somebody and I did," said Brown.

Unconscious in the driver's seat was Tim Enright, 68, of Akron.

"Once we got into the vehicle, reaching through the windows, we finally felt somebody, wrapped him up in a bear hug behind his arms and sweeping making sure there's no seat belts," said Brown explaining "the first time we grabbed onto him he didn't move very well and, no seat belts just took another big pull and got him out of the car and was able to drag him back."

The dash camera video shows Brown and Batchik dragging Enright to safety behind the SUV.

"When we first got him on the ground we checked for breathing, he had a good breath sign, when we checked his pulse he had a good strong pulse so we went back and checked the vehicle for any additional occupants," said Brown.

Enright was taken to a local hospital but has since been released and is recovering at home.

He visited the Uniontown police department on Thursday to thank the officers for saving his life.

His wife, Jan, tells Fox 8 News they are grateful for what the officers and others did but "thank you," seems hardly enough.

"They did put themselves in danger," said Jan Enright.

"We are very grateful and very appreciative."

"It's a good feeling. I'm glad he's with his family again today," said Brown, adding "I've had instances where it was a negative result but this was a good one."