'A matter of seconds': SWAT officers pull driver from car before it 'burned to the ground'

The officers were driving on a highway when a wrong-way driver hit a concrete barrier, bursting his car into flames

By Suzie Ziegler 

HOUSTON — Three Houston SWAT officers were praised for their heroics last week after rescuing a man from a fiery car crash, KHOU 11 reported on Wednesday. 

The officers were driving along a highway when a wrong-way driver hit a concrete barrier. The SUV burst into flames, police said. The officers immediately sprang into action. 

One of the SWAT members, Jack Zakharia, ran to the car. 

"The smoke was so thick I couldn't see the driver in his seat I was right next to," Zakharia told KHOU 11. "So, I yell, 'Is anybody in there?' And I can hear the guy yell: 'Help get me out of here.'" 

Another SWAT member, Austin Huckabee, said the car was fully engulfed in less than a minute. 

Luckily, the three officers managed to pull the driver from the vehicle before it burnt to the ground. 

According to Zakharia, doctors said the man would have died if he had been in the car for just 10 more seconds due to smoke inhalation complications.  

“We were there for a reason,” Zakharia told KHOU 11. “It was a matter of seconds. Not a matter of minutes.” 

The third SWAT member on scene was identified as Tony Villa. Police say the driver may face DWI charges, according to the report. 

[NEXT: 'But we can’t just leave!': How LAPD SWAT implemented a strategic disengagement policy]

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