An Escondido police officer's risky rescue of a DUI suspect from a burning car was all caught on tape, right on the heroic cop’s body camera, and recently released by police.
The footage shows Officer Joseph Putulowski, along with fire department officials, pulling suspected drunk driver Uriel Sierra, 21, out of a car wreck at around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Sierra’s burning car can be seen in the background, with flames shooting from the hood.
A man can be heard telling Sierra in Spanish that an ambulance is coming and telling him not to move his head. In English, an emergency responder says to Sierra, “Stay with us, okay?”
Sierra, a resident of Sylmar, Calif., was driving a Nissan Altima when he ran a red light and slammed into a Lincoln Navigator at the intersection of Valley Parkway and Broadway in Escondido. Putulowski arrived on the scene two minutes later and found the Nissan on fire and Sierra unconscious behind the wheel.
While waiting for emergency crews to arrive, the officer tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher. The flames quickly grew, and Putulowski bravely decided to get into the burning vehicle himself in an attempt to save the driver’s life.
The officer pulled Sierra from the wreckage.
Police said the DUI suspect suffered significant head injuries in the collision. He was taken to a local hospital.
On Tuesday, Sierra was released from the hospital and taken into custody on a felony DUI charge.
He is being held at the Vista Detention Facility and was scheduled to appear in court Thursday.
Police said two people in the Lincoln Navigator were also injured in the crash but survived. Emergency crews had to extract the driver of that vehicle using the Jaws of Life.
Putulowski said he doesn’t feel like a hero and was just doing his job – and was at the right place at the right time.