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Video: Cop pulls unconscious driver from burning car on CA highway

Officer Pedro Garcia pulls driver from burning car in San Jose, Calif. on Sept. 26, 2021. (San Jose Police Department/Released)
September 29, 2021

A police officer pulled an unconscious driver from a car engulfed in flames on the side of a large highway in San Jose, Calif., and the act was caught on video.

According to the San Jose Police Department, rookie officer Pedro Garcia rushed over to the burning vehicle and immediately jumped into action, dragging the unconscious driver out of the car toward a nearby fire engine that had just arrived on scene.

“Bravery under fire. Yesterday, rookie officer Pedro Garcia came upon a collision on Hwy 101 with one vehicle engulfed in flames and the driver still inside,” the department tweeted.

The fire erupted after the 1997 Toyota Avalon seen in the video collided with a Dodge Ram pickup truck. CBS Bay Area reported that the truck’s driver attempted to pull the man from the flaming car, but was unsuccessful.

Thankfully, Garcia arrived on the scene shortly thereafter. During the rescue, Garcia realized the driver’s shoes had melted and fused with the floorboards of the car. The drive also woke up during the rescue and grabbed the steering wheel.

“It was hot but I grabbed him. I went under (his armpits). I started yanking him and he was grabbing on. That’s when I explained to him, his car is on fire, to let go. Hey bro, your car is on fire, let go! And he wasn’t reacting to that, so I explained Hey bro, let go! Let go! And as I was yanking him, he finally let go and I just dummy dragged him all the way towards the fire department where they were right behind us, and I placed him down,” Garcia recalled. “Sir, just take a seat you’re okay, fire department’s going to take a look at you,”

Paramedics treated the driver at the scene and later transported him to Regional Medical Center in San Jose for lacerations and smoke inhalation. Neither the officer nor the other driver was injured.

“I just believe I was in the right place at the right time,” Officer Garcia said, according to ABC News. “I know any other of my partners or anyone in the department would’ve done the same exact thing. Speaking to the fire department, they said if I would not have done that, it could’ve been life-threatening for him.”

“I just hope he’s okay,” Garcia added after reviewing the footage. “I’m glad I was there and I’m just glad it worked out well and I would not have changed it. If this were to occur again, I would’ve done the same exact thing again.”

SJPD Chief Anthony Mata told ABC that the new cop’s “training kicked in,” but the officer’s actions “went above and beyond.”

“His dedication, not only to his work, but to his community is amazing,” Chief Mata said. “He’s from San Jose, born and raised here. He is the ultimate of what we expect of our officers to give back to our community and that’s what he did.”