Bystanders, Police Pull Man From Burning Car in Palm Bay
Cell phone footage captured the dramatic moment when nearly a dozen bystanders linked arms together to rescue a Florida man trapped inside a burning SUV.
Palm Bay Police said the driver was involved in a car crash on Route 1 on Oct. 16 at around 11 a.m., before the vehicle plunged over an embankment and burst into flames, reported local news station WESH.
The unidentified driver was trapped inside the vehicle and bystanders immediately jumped into action to free the man from the car. Some bystanders obtained a fire extinguisher from a hotel located across the street from the scene, while others formed a human chain from the road to the disabled vehicle.
Tom Sais was the first person to get into the vehicle as flames and smoke billowed. He recounted the incident in an interview with WKMG Orlando.
“Start climbing on through and there he was up in the air, hanging still strapped into his seat belt, hanging sideways,” Sais said. “I was praying out loud. Praying as loud as I could, saying, ‘Hey, not today. Today we are not going to burn.'”
Palm Bay Police sergeant Steve Shytle and officer Ryan VanNote arrived on the scene and joined in the pulling of the driver to safety.
Those on the scene anxiously awaited sight of the driver, with one bystander praying out loud for his safety.
Police said the driver became combative and hung onto the seat belt, refusing to be helped. Officers had to physically restrain him as they pulled him away from the fire. Sais said the officers had to use a Taser on the driver twice.
The driver was taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center with minor injuries. Palm Bay Police Department spokesman Mike Brandish told NBC News that the driver may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol or suffering from a medical condition.
Police said several bystanders and officers involved in the rescue mission suffered minor scrapes, but weren’t seriously injured.
“Strangers coming together for a common goal, saving a man’s life. it was beautiful,” Sais told WESH.
The video recorded by Shannon Perez has since gone viral, with over 25,000 views as of 1:50 p.m. today.