Two San Diego officers are receiving high praise after they pulled an unconscious man from a burning car and got him to start breathing again.
The driver was knocked unconscious when he crashed along Broadway in Encanto Tuesday morning. He ended up slumped over his steering wheel as flames began to spread beneath his vehicle.
"As soon as I get there, I actually saw fire underneath the car,” San Diego Police Department officer Art Morales said. “He was slumped over, wasn't moving."
Morales sprung into action to save the driver, but his heroic feat didn’t come without a few obstacles.
“So I pulled my baton out, and just expanded it. When you expand it, it makes it similar to a small bat and I just started hitting the window right here,” Officer Morales said.
The 7-year veteran unleashed on the window, but it wouldn’t break.
Around 15 blows later, or what Morales said “felt like forever," he scrapped his baton, took out his flashlight, and delivered a glass-shattering blow, slicing up his forearm in the process.
A good Samaritan helped unlock the door and Morales reached in and turned off the engine. Then he yanked out the driver and dragged him to safety.
At around the same time, Morales’s squad mate Officer Shannon Cass showed up. Her timing couldn’t have been better, because the clock was ticking for the crash victim.
"It was very obvious that we was not breathing, so I said I'm just going to start chest compressions,” Officer Cross said.
Her instincts paid off and the victim began breathing again a short time later.
In the moment, Morales and Cross’s heroism seemed like another day on the job.
"It takes a second to kind of step back and look and say ‘Oh yeah, I did do that,’ so yeah it feels good," Cross said.
Morales said the incident was a reminder of why he chose his career.
"I've wanted to be a police officer since I was 5, so for me it's the cliché of helping somebody, that's why I do it, and almost seven years in, I feel the same way as I did when I was 5 years old. So for me, it feels good to help somebody out and to know that he's OK," Morales said.
Morales is new to the SWAT team and just underwent rescue training days ago. He said he never thought he would have to put it into practice so soon.
The crash victim is recovering at a hospital and doing well, according to SDPD.