Police body cam video shows dramatic rescue from life-threatening car fire

In the middle of the night, under an Atlanta overpass, five police officers fought for one thing. Time.You fee...

Posted: Dec 8, 2017 3:52 PM
Updated: Dec 8, 2017 3:52 PM

In the middle of the night, under an Atlanta overpass, five police officers fought for one thing. Time.

You feel and sense their desperation and determination through the body camera Officer Michael Skillman was wearing.

Just watching it your heart accelerates and you can sense a prickle of adrenaline.

A car with two men inside has slammed into a bridge abutment, flames pour from under the hood. The doors are jammed and Officer Skillman's fire extinguisher empties -- with no effect.

On the video, screams from those inside mix with the officer's shouts for them to get out. He attacks the car's windows with his baton trying to open an escape.

'This was really real and we had to act fast'

Officer Bill Brooks took it all in as he and three other backup officers arrived.

"For me it was one of the most traumatic scenes I have ever been on," Brooks said.

Officer Elijah McCall admits he had expected to find a simple accident.

"Most of the time we get calls and it is not as bad as people usually say it is, but yeah, once we arrived on scene, we realized this was really real and we had to act fast," said McCall.

McCall, Brooks as well as officers Derek Daniel and Andre Valentine joined the battle to break into the burning car.

Frustration

They succeed -- only to find the victims' legs trapped beneath the dashboard and the officers have no tools to free them.

All Brooks felt was frustration.

"You can't get them out and you can feel the heat from the flames on your arms as you are trying to pull them out," said Brooks.

Atlanta firefighters were on the way. The officers could have just backed off and waited.

But they didn't.

Instead they went from trying to get the men out, to trying to keep the flames from getting the men.

Five empty fire extinguishers later, the flames were still burning, McCall recalled.

"Once we exhausted all the fire extinguishers and pretty much busted out all of the windows, at a certain point you feel helpless," he said.

"We were praying at one point." Officer Valentine admitted.

Lucky break

It was right about then when officer Daniel remembered something.

"I realized that we did have an old can of water in the back of our trunks."

Grabbing their emergency water supplies, the officers poured it onto the burning car as a last line of defense.

Moments later the fire department arrived. Firefighters extinguished the blaze in seconds, but even using pneumatic tools took hours to free the driver and passenger -- who survived.

"A lot of people say we are heroes -- I mean that is what we signed up to do," Brooks said.

It's more than people saying the men are heroes.

Thanks to a body camera, you can see it.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33558

Reported Deaths: 2110
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9616571
Lake3538185
Cass15897
Allen145168
St. Joseph124834
Elkhart116328
Hendricks116171
Hamilton115693
Johnson1093108
Madison58559
Porter51627
Bartholomew50034
Clark49241
LaPorte42423
Howard39526
Tippecanoe3903
Jackson3791
Delaware37736
Shelby36822
Hancock32728
Floyd31839
Boone30935
Morgan27824
Vanderburgh2652
Montgomery23517
White2318
Decatur22431
Clinton2231
Noble21121
Grant20621
Harrison19221
Dubois1923
Henry16910
Greene16824
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Dearborn16621
Vigo1648
Lawrence15423
Miami1411
Putnam1367
Jennings1304
Orange12522
Scott1193
Kosciusko1111
Franklin1098
Ripley1086
Carroll922
Marshall901
Daviess8516
Steuben812
Newton7710
Wayne776
Fayette767
Wabash762
LaGrange712
Jasper651
Washington521
Jay500
Fulton481
Clay471
Rush462
Randolph463
Pulaski460
Jefferson431
Whitley393
Starke363
Sullivan341
Owen341
Brown331
DeKalb331
Perry310
Benton300
Knox290
Wells280
Huntington272
Tipton251
Crawford240
Blackford242
Fountain202
Switzerland200
Spencer191
Parke170
Posey160
Gibson142
Adams131
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0164
West Lafayette
Few Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 69°
Kokomo
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 66°
Rensselaer
Scattered Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 63°
Fowler
Scattered Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 63°
Williamsport
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 66°
Crawfordsville
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 63°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 66°
Delphi
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 64°
Monticello
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 64°
Logansport
Scattered Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 64°
Cooler, less humid weather ahead by the weekend.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events