“Here’s the kind of thing that restores your faith in humanity,” says a comment on the above YouTube video.
Dashcam footage from Anchorage police officer Mitchel Veenstra captured the nerve-racking scene as he and a couple of bystanders rushed to help a man trapped inside a flaming vehicle on Sunday. Thanks to the quick action of the cop and the passersby, the driver was rescued from the wreckage before he burned alive.
According to the Huffington Post, the Anchorage Police Department posted the video to their own YouTube channel, commending the heroic efforts of Mitchel Veenstra and the people who helped him. They reported that Veenstra responded to a call about a serious accident on a remote road and arrived to find a white SUV blazing on its side.
Disturbing cries can be heard from within the wreckage as the victim screams, “Oh my God! Oh my God!”
The occupant of the vehicle was trapped inside, his arm pinned down by the car itself. At first Officer Veenstra and a few other volunteers tried to push the car off of the driver, but did not have the man-power to move the vehicle. The cop then recruits more bystanders to help them save the man, eventually gathering enough conjoined strength to move the SUV off the victim’s arm. The video shows the exact moment when the driver crawls out of the burning wreckage, clutching the arm that was crushed under the machinery.
“On Sunday, May 15, 2016 APD Officer Mitchel Veenstra was dispatched to respond to a vehicle that had rolled and caught on fire on Middlerock Road,” says the video description. “Thanks to the heroic acts of nearby citizens and Officer Veenstra, a life was saved on this day.”
According to Alaska Dispatch News, Veenstra and his helpers didn’t push the SUV more than a few inches, but it was just enough for the driver to get free. He was then able to climb out through the top of the vehicle.
“They were able to move the car just enough that the occupant’s arm was freed and he was able to crawl out through the sunroof to safety,” said department spokeswoman Renee Oistad.
The video on the Anchorage Police Department YouTube page has more than 40,000 views and is quickly climbing. With so many negative stories on the web, especially pertaining to the controversial actions of many American police officers, stories about a heroic cop are always welcome. So far, the footage of Mitchel Veenstra’s rescue has not brought in a single dislike.
As if the rescue wasn’t enough to earn Officer Veenstra praise, CBS News reported that the man he saved was actually a firefighter working for the state, though he has remained unidentified. He suffered injuries to the arm that was pinned under the SUV and possibly some smoke inhalation.
The victim explained that he’s doing okay since the accident but that he admitted, “I thought I was literally going to die.”
“I’m glad to be talking to you right now,” Mitchel Veenstra said to him.
“Me too,” said the firefighter.
— Mike Grant (@MikeGrant_LA) May 18, 2016
The cause of the nearly-fatal accident is still unknown but under investigation. The driver did admit that he wasn’t wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash. This likely resulted in him being partially crushed when the SUV rolled over and caught fire.
Though Mitchel Veenstra is being hailed as the hero of this rescue, he was quick to praise the bystanders who helped him out.
“They stepped up and they put themselves there in the line of fire — literally.”
Would you have volunteered to help Officer Mitchel Veenstra rescue the firefighter from a burning car?
For another story of cop heroism, find out what one officer did to help a starving homeless woman.
[Photo via the Anchorage Police Department]