Tampa Police officers save man from burning car - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa Police officers save man from burning car

Posted: Updated:
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The Tampa Police Department reports that at approximately 9:30 p.m. Saturday officers responded to a traffic crash where a man was trapped in a burning car.

Police identified the man as 35-year old Ruben Perry of 6009 North 32nd Street in Tampa.

Officials say numerous patrol officers responded to N. 22 St and E Cayuga to find a 1984 Monte Carlo on fire with Perry trapped inside.  As the officers attempted to remove Perry  from the burning vehicle they used fire extinguishers in an attempt to extinguish the fire. 

As the fire continued to grow the officers had to forcibly pull Perry from the burning vehicle.
As a result of the officers effort removing the individual from the fully engulfed vehicle they saved his life. 

Today, the seven officers involved spoke with the media.  Officers Hunter Stevens, Andrew Seligman, John Stanjeski and James Parsons worked to put out the fire.  

"Started on the driver's side," Officer Parsons recalled.  "I think that might have initially caused that burst of flames so I ran to the passenger side and just kept the extinguisher on the fire as much as possible. " 

Officer Stanjeski was right beside him.  All four officers were concerned about their fellow officers working to save Perry.  

"The flames dimmed but then they just ran out they came back up," said Stanjeski.  "And you kind of have that uh-oh moment, cause I look and three of my brothers are inside, rescuing somebody that they don't know."

Officers Shawn Purcell, James Byrne and Dwight Vinkemulder were braving the flames working to pull Perry out of that burning Monte Carlo.  

"Open the door, he's trapped, he's wedged in between the dashboard, underneath, and the seat, just crumpled in there as Sgt. Glenn described, as a cocoon, he was trapped," said Officer James Byrne. 

Officer Shawn Purcell immediately worked to get the victim out.  

"We're pulling on the guy as hard as we can and I go, he's not freeing up," said Purcell.  "And at that point in time, JD looked at me and goes, 'Let's pull one more time, let's pull one more time'."

They finally got Perry out, and moments after that, the car burst into flames.

Perry sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital.  Six Tampa Police Officers suffered from smoke inhalation and received treatment at Tampa General Hospital. 

A seventh officer that was involved did not request medical treatment.  The officers were released back to full duty.

While some consider the officers heroes, they say they were just doing their jobs. 

Officer Dwight Vinkemulder summed up the feelings of the group:  "He was coming with us or we weren't coming out. That's just it. He was coming out."

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