A man was pulled from a burning pickup truck just before it exploded at a South Austin apartment complex on Monday, Austin fire officials said.
Firefighters, Austin-Travis County EMS medics and Austin police officers responded around 4:40 p.m. to The Enclave apartment complex in the 1000 block of West Stassney Lane, just west of South First Street, after receiving reports of a vehicle that was engulfed in flames with a person trapped inside.
Officers Chandler Carrera and Eddie Pineda arrived at the scene before firefighters and pulled the man out of the truck. They smashed a window to open the truck’s door and dragged the man out before it the flames swallowed the vehicle, fire officials said.
The man, whom authorities did not identify, was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center with serious, and potentially life-threatening smoke inhalation injuries, medics said.
Fire officials said the man experienced a medical emergency at the same time he had finished backing into a parking spot. He was able to park the truck, but his foot was still on the accelerator, officials said.
He was unable to move his foot off the pedal, which caused the tires to spin in place and trigger the fire.
Tony Farmer, 36, was in his home on the third floor of Heatherwood II Condominiums next door to the apartments when he heard a loud bang.
“I was just chillin’ inside and I heard a loud bang, kind of like when the (trash truck) comes and slams the dumpster onto the ground when they’re done emptying it or a transformer (exploding),” Farmer said. “Then the second time it happened, I was like, ‘Woah, that’s a little weird.’ “
Next, Farmer heard car alarms going off and he went to a stairwell outside at his condo to see what was happening. He saw nearly a dozen bystanders in the parking lot of the apartment complex and Austin police rushing into the parking lot.
A man standing near the burning truck yelled at an officer: “He’s in there! He’s still in there! He’s in there!”
Farmer said if it hadn’t been for that man, he’s not sure anyone would have known the man was still trapped inside because the vehicle was so covered in flames.
The officer got out his baton, whacked the truck’s window a couple of times and, with the help of the other officer, pulled the man 30 to 50 feet away from the vehicle, Farmer said.
Then, the truck exploded.
“It exploded a little bit, almost like in the movies, not like a huge explosion like atomic, but it engulfed more about 20 seconds after (the man) was removed from the vehicle,” Farmer said.
He said it was like watching a movie.
“The whole thing was crazy,” Farmer said. “Those cops … there’s no doubt about it— they risked their lives and they’re heroes. There’s no doubt about it.”
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: ‘He’s still in there!’: Austin cops defy flames to rescue man moments before truck explodes
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