Austin, TX – Two heroic Austin police officers pulled an unconscious man from a flaming truck moments before it exploded last week (video below).
The Austin Police Department (APD) received multiple 911 calls on April 24 reporting that an unconscious man was inside a burning vehicle near an apartment building, and that the vehicle “had become engulfed in flames,” Public Information Officer Destiny Silva said during a press conference on May 26.
APD Officers Chandler Carrera and Eduardo Pineda were on the scene within minutes.
“As I was running up to the vehicle, one of the citizens started yelling out that he was still in the car‚” Officer Pineda told reporters. “I tried to look inside the window, but there was too much smoke. I couldn’t see anything.”
He tried to open the driver’s side door, but it was locked.
“So, at that point, I just got my ASP and broke the window down in order to be able to look inside. Once I broke the window down, I saw the individual inside and then went from there,” Officer Pineda said.
Officer Carrera said he initially planned to douse the flames with a fire extinguisher while his partner pulled the driver to safety.
“It came apparent that [the driver] was a pretty big guy and he may be stuck in the vehicle,” he explained. “So, I just dropped it and pulled him out from there.”
Bodycam footage showed the officers as they swiftly pulled the unresponsive man out of the burning truck and dragged him to safety.
An explosion could be heard seconds after they got him out of the vehicle.
“Shortly after they removed this male from the vehicle that was engulfed in flames, the vehicle exploded,” Officer Silva told reporters.
She praised the officers having saved the man’s life.
“If it wasn’t for their heroic actions, we don’t know how this situation would have turned out,” Officer Silva said. “APD is proud to recognize these officers.”
APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon named Officer Carrera and Officer Pineda Employees of the Week on May 28.
They suffered some cuts, minor burns and smoke inhalation during the rescue, but were otherwise unharmed.
Officer Pineda said he appreciates the recognition, but that he and his partner were just doing their jobs.
“It feels good, but we don’t consider ourselves heroes. We’re just police officers,” he told reporters. “That’s our job. We’re here to help people. That’s why we became police officers. I’m just happy that it brought positive light to the community.”
“At the end of the day, everyone made it out fine and that’s what matters,” he added.
Officer Pineda said he credits emergency medical personnel for helping the man in ways police couldn’t.
“It was a collaborative effort,” he noted. “We got the guy out, but EMS ultimately provided higher-end medical care then we could, and then [the fire department] showed up and obviously put the fire out so that it couldn’t expand and go into the buildings or the vehicles, so it was definitely a team effort.”
Officer Carrera noted that all of his fellow officers help save people from dire situations on a daily basis.
“It’s just that ours happened to be on camera,” he said.
Just two hours after the rescue, the duo responded to a shooting call and placed a tourniquet on the chest of a wounded man, saving his life as well, KIRO reported.
Officer Carrera has been with the APD for just over 18 months.
Officer Pineda said he has spent nearly six years with the department.
Watch the incident unfold in the videos below: