VIDEO: Bay Area officer pulls man from burning vehicle

Amanda del Castillo Image
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
EMBED <>More Videos

A Fremont police officer jumped into action when a man became trapped in a burning car.

FREMONT, Calif. -- An incredible rescue was caught on camera as a San Francisco Bay Area police officer pulled a man from a burning car.

Resident Beth Koenig captured the fiery scene along Curtner Road in Fremont, California, just a block from her home.

Koenig initially heard a loud screech, then a bang, and rushed out of her home to investigate.

She came across a mangled SUV. Fremont police said a 28-year-old driver took out a tree on Curtner Road Saturday night. The vehicle ended up in flames on its side and impaled by a tree. The driver was stuck inside the car.

"He shouldn't have survived," Koenig said. "He did, and he walked away, and it's because of that officer."

Koenig started recording on her phone as Fremont Police Officer Jason Trzewieczynski arrived on scene. Video shows the officer first attempting to put out the fire with an extinguisher.

"When I realized that wasn't working, then all bets are off and you just have to drag him out any way you could," Trzewieczynski said.

Trzewieczynski entered through the back of the SUV. He's recorded clearing a path through the man's belongings, moving toward flames, and following the driver's pleas for help.

Trzewieczynski said the tree was the biggest challenge, because it was difficult to see exactly where the driver was located.

But after maneuvering the man through the mangled car, Trzewieczynski was able to get the driver on his feet.

"Once I got a hold of his hand, I was able to drag him over the seat basically and all the way through three rows and out the back," the officer explained.

"He told that guy, 'Hey you need to stand up and help me get you away. If this thing blows, we have to get you away from the car,'" Koenig said.

Officer Trzewieczynski explained the immediacy, "About two weeks ago, I was on a car crash. Everybody was out, but the car was engulfed. And right when I showed up, the car exploded. So that was kinda going through my mind."

The three-minute-long video shows the flames taking over the car moments after the rescue.

On Monday, evidence of the wreck remained -- scorched plants, car parts, and other burn marks. The tree that was hit has been removed.

Trzewieczynski joined the Fremont Police Department two years ago. Previously, he spent 10 years as a professional MMA fighter.

"I didn't have to punch or kick anything," he said, when asked whether his MMA experienced helped in the rescue. "But the grappling might have helped."

Even with the remarkable footage, Trzewieczynski said rescuing the man from the burning car was business as usual.

"There's nothing special about what I did," he said. "Any one of my partners would've done the exact same thing."

Fremont police said it's investigating the crash as a possible DUI. The driver was taken to the hospital after the crash.

The driver was not arrested.