Video captures hero dragging driver from burning car

Posted at 11:39 PM, Jul 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 23:39:26-04

PHILADELPHIA (KYW/CNN) -  An officer for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)  is being recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty.

It was a race against the clock as the officer and a passerby helped rescue a man from a burning car.  And it was all caught on video.

SEPTA Police Sgt. Marc Pasquarella was on the clock at 1:15 a.m. Friday when he happened upon a crash. From his dash camera, you can see a Sedan had slammed into the back of a trash truck.

The sergeant got out to check on things, and realized the driver of the car was slumped down almost below the steering wheel. "The female driving the trash truck said the car's on fire, so obviously at that point, you gotta get him out,” Pasquarella said. 

And that's when the 7-year veteran of SEPTA's force said the adrenaline got going. "I ran to go get a fire extinguisher, but then I realized this was going to waste time,” Pasquarella said on Thursday. 

As time passed, the sergeant knew things were only getting more dire. He and Dr. Murtuza Jaffari started yanking on the car’s doors.

Jaffari spoke over Skype while vacationing in Spain. "All of a sudden the officers and I, our adrenaline kicked in and you know, I guess we started working as a team, and I guess we fed off each other. And we went around to all of the car doors and started opening them up,” Jaffari said.

Pasquarella was eventually able to reach a lock through a broken window, but the problems were still adding up. "I kept slipping on the engine oil, and that's what really concerned me cause the front of the car is on fire and I'm worried about the engine, that catching fire and engulfing me and the passerby,” Pasquarella said. 

The driver’s legs were also wedged below the dashboard, complicating things. But the sergeant persisted.

"I grabbed his legs and pulled him out, and then he came right out and then we just dragged him to a - off to the side,” Pasquarella said. 

The driver was hospitalized for serious injuries. As for Pasquarella, he has children ages 7 and 2. When asked what they think about it all,  the officer said they think it's cool he made it on the news. 

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