Officer describes harrowing rescue of driver in fiery crash

- A Titusville police officer says he's never seen anything like it, after a truck exploded as he rescued the driver.

In video released by the department, you can hear rescuers say, "No one in the car is what we're hearing, the guy's in the woods."

Twenty-foot flames shot over the trees, as an inferno raged around a crashed truck.  The driver was face down near the fire along Riveredge Drive. 

"The flames were so bright, you couldn't see where the edge was, we knew we were about 10 feet in but it was tough to see," said Sgt. Tyler Wright of the Titusville Police Department.

The driver, 44-year-old Phillip Thistle, managed to crawl out of the car, but he's on fire, and so is everything around him.

In the video, you hear rescuers saying, "Just you here and no one else with you?"

Sgt Wright knew he only had seconds to spare.  

"Just getting away from the car, trying to do what we could."

With the help of another deputy  they drag the driver through the brush.

"Just a feeling, there was popping going on. The air in the tires were popping, just random noises and hisses were going off, and it made you feel like something else was about to happen."

Then the truck exploded,  but the danger didn't end there.

"We gotta go again, we gotta move further. I was walking backwards, holding his feet. I looked up. I could see the three to four rows of power lines."

They push the victim past the power lines to safety.  He was hurt but alive.

"Burns, cuts, scraps and serious neck injury."

In all, the rescue lasts a total of two minutes.

"Your adrenaline was going. I didn't feel the heat.  Our first priority is to save lives. It could put us in a bad spot, but that's what we do everyday."

Officers said the driver had been speeding when the truck crashed, rolled over and caught fire.

Up Next:


  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories You May Be Interested In – includes Advertiser Stories