SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A woman who was trapped in a burning car hailed a Washington state police officer as a hero after he bashed in her window and pulled her to safety, a rescue caught on the officer’s body camera.
Officer Tim Schwering of the Spokane Police Department repeatedly smashed the window with a baton as flames shot from the hood of the car on a snowy street. He eventually cracked a hole big enough for Kim Novak to fit through and pulled her out.
Novak told media outlets in Spokane that she was driving home from the grocery store Friday night when her car hit frozen slush and broke down.
She says she began to see smoke but could not get out because her vehicle has power locks, which stopped working when the engine died. She called 911, then noticed flames coming from the front of the windshield.
Novak tried kicking out the windows but could not get them to break. She thought she would die.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘It’s not going to be long,'” she told The Spokesman-Review newspaper. “It’s coming under the floor bed, and it’s coming near me.”
She moved to the backseat and tried unsuccessfully to kick out the rear window. The inside of the car filled with smoke and then she heard someone beating on a window.
“I honestly thought it would take one hit and the window would smash,” Schwering told the newspaper.
But it took the officer several swings to open a hole big enough for Novak’s head.
“I saw an opening about the size of a large cantaloupe,” Novak said. “I got my head stuck through there and they got a hold of my coat, and I was pushing like a linebacker in the front line of the Seahawks.”
With the help of a neighbor, Schwering was able to pull Novak to safety.
Novak and Schwering were both treated for smoke inhalation.
“He and I are basically best friends now,” Novak said, calling Schwering “a genuine hero.”