LOS ANGELES (KABC) --A Los Angeles cop who put his life on the line to pull a driver from a fiery wreck on the 405 Freeway is being honored with the Medal of Valor from President Obama.
Officer Donald Thompson, a bomb technician with the LAPD remembers Christmas 2013 like it was yesterday.
A driver going north on the 405 experienced a medical emergency and slammed his vehicle into the center divider. The vehicle exploded into flames.
Thompson, who was on his way to work, acted quickly, scaling two freeway dividers to get to the unconscious driver, who was seat-belted inside
"I could just feel the heat increasing and increasing," Thompson said. "My exposed skin was just feeling it, everything was happening so fast. I thought this might be the moment that I might pass away."
Thompson didn't give up, finally unbuckling the seat belt and pulling the 72-year-old driver to safety.
His heroic actions are now being recognized by the White House. Obama will award Thompson the public safety officer Medal of Valor on Monday.
Thompson says receiving the medal and meeting the president will be a highlight - but the true reward came when he finally met the man he saved.
"That was the defining moment," Thompson said. "From that point on, I just knew that no award, whether it's a medal, a certificate, a ribbon, proclamation can take the place of someone looking you straight in the eye and saying thank you for saving my life."