Deputies rescue driver from burning car

Posted at 11:31 AM, Mar 23, 2016


Two deputies pulled a woman to safety after a fiery 3-vehicle crash in Indian River County Wednesday morning, according to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office.

The incident happened at 66th Avenue and Oslo Road.

A car southbound on 66th Avenue turned in front of a septic tanker truck and that caused a collision with a refuse flatbed truck, the sheriff's office said.

Officials said the vehicle and sewage truck caught fire. 

Indian River County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Sunkel, who was the first deputy on the scene, discovered that a woman was in the car. He broke a window to try and free her but quickly learned that she was trapped by her seat belt, steering wheel, and airbag.

A short time later Deputy Linda Nolan arrived and, after unsuccessfully trying to put out flames with a fire extinguisher, both managed to pull the woman out of the vehicle, the sheriff's office said.

"We are so proud of Deputies Sunkel and Nolan for their lifesaving efforts earlier this morning. Video of the incident shows that despite danger to themselves, they continued to work to save this woman from her burning car," Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar said in a news release.

Jeff Brauer, a retired deputy, assisted his former colleagues with another fire extinguisher. "We just gave it one more ditch effort and we were able to pull her out," says Brauer.

Construction worker Joseph Rego heard a loud boom and he watched the rescue unfold.

"I was amazed. I mean I stood right there and watching him and they got her out of that vehicle," says Rego.

"They were above and beyond their call of duty," said Brauer of the two deputies. "It made me feel good to see that there's deputies that can do that."

The patient was flown by medical helicopter to a local hospital and is in critical condition. Deputy Nolan suffered minor burns to her hand during the rescue.

The Florida Highway Patrol is now investigating the crash.