Canton officer rescues unconscious driver from burning car

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CANTON, Ohio– Police body camera video shows the dramatic moments after a car crashed into a house and burst into flames, as an officers worked to rescue the unconscious driver still inside the car. A Canton officer, who wishes not to be identified, was working a traffic detail on Monument Road when he said he heard a loud crash. A woman immediately flagged him down to say a car crashed into a house on nearby 7th Street N.W. “The vehicle is on fire, he responds to the driver’s side door, it’s locked, he runs back to get the fire extinguisher to put the fire out and the fire extinguisher runs out before that happens,” said Police Lt. Dennis Garren. The officer’s body camera was recording as he desperately attempted to extinguish the flames before his extinguisher emptied. “I’m out of fire extinguisher. I need another fire extinguisher,” he radioed police dispatch. “He goes to the passenger side door, it’s open, it’s so smoky that he can’t see whether there’s anybody in there or not. He knows there has to be a driver in there. The vehicle is fully throttled,” Lt. Garren said. Still unable to tell how many people may be in the burning car, the officer was able to reach through an opening in the driver’s side window and unlock the door. Inside he found the 52-year-old driver unconscious behind the wheel as flames continued to grow in the engine compartment directly in front of him. The officer was heard asking a citizen at the scene for help getting the driver to safety. “Just pull, don’t worry about injuries, just pull,” the officer instructed the good Samaritan, who helped, then almost immediately left the scene. “Male’s out. I need medics,” the officer radioed his dispatch. As other officers arrived, the body camera shows the flames growing and threatening the house. Two officers forced entry to the home in an attempt to evacuate anyone who might be inside, but the occupants are not home. As firefighters and medics arrived, they were ordered to get out of the burning home. The two officers who entered the home were treated for smoke inhalation. The driver of the car was transported to a local hospital where he was reportedly in satisfactory condition. The cause of the crash is not yet known, but from a conversation at the scene first responders had not ruled out the possibility that a medical issue could have contributed. With as fast as the flames were spreading police said they believe it is likely the driver owes his life to the officer’s quick and selfless response. “That driver was unconscious. There was no way he was going to get out of that vehicle without someone else’s assistance,” Garren said. “I think our guys do that sort of stuff as well as law enforcement all throughout our community and country every day. They don’t think about themselves. They know if someone is in there that it could get bad — if that house goes up, gets fully involved so they just did their job they went in to make sure everyone was safe and they do it every single day,” he said.

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