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Maplewood police pull burning victim from ablaze vehicle
Officers to receive 'Lifesaving Award'
The scene; a vehicle on its side and aflame on a snowy street just before midnight -- with desperate cries coming from inside.
A Maplewood police officer on patrol spotted the crashed vehicle just southwest of Larpenteur and White Bear avenues at 11:50 p.m. April 4, with feet-high flames pouring from it. He called dispatchers to send backup and fire crews.
Aided by a fellow Maplewood officer who'd just arrived, he tried to see if there was someone inside.
"When officers got close to the vehicle, they heard an occupant of the car shouting for help and making sounds that indicated he was in pain," a police statement said. "With heavy smoke coming from the car officers Clint Abel and Jason Marino ran to the roof side of the vehicle and saw a person raising his arms through the driver side window.
The officers each grabbed an arm, pulling the man from the car.
With the victim now out of the vehicle, officers saw his pants were burning. They patted out the flames with their gloved hands, and pulled the now semi-conscious man away from the vehicle.
St. Paul Fire Department paramedics responded -- the scene was within St. Paul city limits -- and took the man to Regions Hospital via an ambulance. He had extensive injuries to his face and much of his lower body was burned.
"We are super proud of them," Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell said of the two officers. "They really put themselves in danger.
"That car was ablaze and they could hear things popping (as they exploded) when they got to it and the victim was yelling from inside," Schnell said. "He could not get himself out on his own. There's no doubt he would have died if they hadn't done what they did."
On a squad dash-cam video of the scene, officers can be seen approaching the scene with a civilian who jumps a fence to help them. One of the officers can be heard calmly reporting back to dispatchers, "Forty-three-twenty, we've got one occupant out."
Abel and Marino will be awarded the Maplewood Police Department's Lifesaving Award for their actions. At least one citizen will be recognized for rendering aid to the victim.
-- Holly Wenzel
Video courtesy of the Maplewood Police Department