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VIDEO: Georgia police officer pulls man from burning car

Photo courtesy: Athens-Clarke County Police Department, Georgia

The quick actions of a senior Athens-Clarke County, Georgia police officer likely saved a man's life after he found himself trapped in a burning car.

Athens-Clarke Police said someone crashed an SUV into a tree in someone's front yard around 3:00 a.m. August 18, 2016. The person who lived there called 9-1-1, saying the car was on fire, and pleaded with the dispatcher to send help quickly because he feared the vehicle would soon explode.

Officer Dan Whitney was the first to arrive. He pulled a fire extinguisher out of his trunk, shut off his siren and jumped into action. He found a man who was trapped on the driver's side. His upper body was stuck inside a small window. Body camera video recorded Officer Whitney try to put out the flames, and walking around the vehicle, trying to open doors to get the man out. Police said the impact of the crash bent the frame of the SUV, and all of the doors were jammed shut. Officer Whitney shouted at a home owner to grab a fire extinguisher or a hose, but knew time was running out.


Police said Officer Whitney was able to bend the window frame back far enough to free the man and pull him out. As Officer Whitney was pulling the man out, an explosion happened under the hood, knocking off the officer's hat and body camera.

Police said the man who was rescued survived. They didn't know the driver was still in the SUV at the time; that person burned to death. Officer Whitney said he pulled the passenger out just in time: the back seat completely melted just minutes after the man got out. Other police officers who arrived described the heat from the fire as being unbearable from 50 feet away.

Police haven't said what caused the crash.

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