Heroic rescue saves man from burning car at Miller and Linden roads

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FLINT TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (12/5/2017) - It began with a call for a traffic crash. Flint Township's Officer Kyle Brandon was first on scene at Linden and Miller roads.

He quickly learned there was someone in the driver seat of the car catching fire.

In the officer's dash cam footage, you can hear the driver revving the engine. The officers learned his foot was stuck there so long, the engine caught fire.

Michigan State Police Trooper Denis McGuckin arrived next. He could see the smoke from a half mile out.

McGuckin immediately hopped out of his patrol car and yelled for the driver to stop hitting the gas. With no response, both officers maneuvered their patrol cars to prevent the man's vehicle from moving.

Brandon was eventually able to unlock the door and turn off the car.

"I opened the driver side door and I could see an elderly male, tensed up on the steering wheel. I was yelling at him, 'Let's get out, the car's on fire, you gotta get out.'" McGuckin said. "He wasn't responding to me. He was straight stiff."

Genesee County Sheriff's Capt. Casey Tafoya said the victim may have been in the middle of a seizure.

"When you have a seizure, you posture," Tafoya said. "And he's really confused, so he's clamped onto the steering wheel."

He was the next to arrive and brought his fire extinguisher.

He and McGuckin agreed they were trying not to think about the car exploding.

"I know we're all thinking, no way. Not that it's not gonna happen, but we're not leaving," Tafoya said.

Sgt. First Class Lucas Catterfeld with the Michigan National Guard happened to be driving near the crash and rushed to help.

"I just saw 'em needing help and the crazy thing to me is I saw like 20 people on each side of the road that had their cell phones out and they're videotaping and taking pictures while a guy is sitting in his car burning," Catterfield said.

For the next seven minutes, the four men took turns trying to get the man out of his burning car.

"We could only try for a couple seconds at a time because the smoke was so intense," McGuckin said.

Eventually Catterfeld moved the man's arm just right, allowing McGuckin to pull him out of the car to safety.

"We didn't care about what the patch said, we didn't care about whether you're a civilian, we all just came together," McGuckin said.

It's a day none of them will forget.

The officers were treated at the hospital that night for smoke inhalation.

The man they saved did not want to speak on camera, but he said he couldn't be more grateful they saved his life.

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