A North Carolina community is lauding the courageous actions of a police officer who risked his life to save an unconscious truck driver trapped in a burning semi-truck.
The heart-pounding incident was captured on body camera on August 8. In the video footage, Salisbury Police Department Lieutenant Corey Brooks can be seen sprinting toward a semi-truck engulfed in flames, realizing that the driver is still inside and unconscious. In a desperate plea, Brooks can be heard yelling, “Hey, sir, you need to get out of the truck! Come on out!”
Despite danger from the flames, Brooks managed to release the driver’s seat belt and pull the man from the tractor-trailer’s driver’s seat. With the help of a compassionate female bystander who rushed to assist, he successfully dragged the unconscious driver to safety just in time.
“I’m thinking, like, ‘OK, this truck can go at any time. I got maybe minutes or seconds to get him out of here.’ I was thinking, ‘Either I’m going to die here with him or I gotta get him out of here,’” Brooks said in an interview with WSOC News.
Remarkably, only minutes after Brooks made the rescue, the burning vehicle triggered a massive explosion.
Thanks to Brooks, the driver, Michael Williams, eventually regained consciousness and is now recovering at home after receiving medical treatment at a local hospital. It was later determined that Williams had suffered a medical emergency that caused him to lose consciousness, which led to the crash.
“I just thank God that I was in the right place at the right time. I will never forget this for the rest of my life,” Brooks reflected.
The Salisbury Police Department also officially recognized Brooks, a 25-year law enforcement veteran who currently serves as lieutenant of the criminal investigations/violent crimes unit, for his heroic actions that day. During a Salisbury City Council meeting on September 5, the lieutenant was presented with an act of bravery citation.
“Stories like these often do not make headlines, but they’re out there, and I’m grateful to be able to provide an example of such a reflection of a positive police interaction as I do tonight,” Salisbury Police Chief Patrick “P.J.” Smith said.
“Out of 25 years, this is probably one of the scariest nights of my career,” Brooks said. “With that incident, either I was going to die in the truck with the gentleman or I was going to get him out of the truck. So, it took everything that I had to get him out of the truck.”
Brooks also expressed his gratitude for the unidentified woman who came to his aid in helping rescue the driver.
“I wish I knew who she was, but she was like an angel; she appeared out of nowhere and she helped me get him across the road,” he stated.
In a final note of gratitude, Brooks humorously told Salisbury Fire Chief Bob Parnell, “I have never been so excited to see fire trucks roll up to a call.”