Video: For second time in months, another Fla. deputy pulls driver from burning car

The dashboard camera video shows Deputy David Dozer had just 30 seconds to rescue a man from a burning BMW

By Lamaur Stancil
Treasure Coast Newspapers, Stuart, Fla.

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — The dashboard camera video shows Deputy David Dozer had just 30 seconds to rescue a man from a burning BMW Sunday night before it became engulfed in flames.

But Dozer said he didn't know anyone was in the smoke-filled car before he opened it and found the semiconscious driver. 30 seconds was just enough time for Dozer to pull the man out of the burning car, the second such rescue in as many months by the Indian River County Sheriff's Office.

The crash happened the 9400 block of 106th Avenue at about 11:43 p.m. As another motorist called 911, Dozer was traveling on County Road 512 in the Vero Lake Estates area and noticed the flames from the crashed car.

"It was lucky the caller and I were in the area at the time," Dozer said.

Dozer was cautious about approaching the car on foot.

"I didn't see a reason why the car was on fire, so I looked for any hazards or downed power lines," he said. "That goes back to our training. You have to survey a scene before you run in."

He walked to the driver's side of the BMW and couldn't see anyone in the car. He opened the door and the smoke was thick enough that he still couldn't see anyone.

"I was immediately engulfed in smoke," he said.

Once the smoke dissipated, Dozer saw the man's right hand.

"I reached in and grabbed him," Dozer said.

The driver was awake, but would not move on his own, the deputy said. He may have been disoriented from the crash or smoke inhalation, Dozer said.

The deputy yanked the man, who was not wearing a seat belt, from the car. The driver walked a few feet before collapsing, the video showed.

"I could see the fire starting in the passenger side of the vehicle and working its way to the back," Dozer said.

Shortly after the man was away from the car, the fire spread to the driver's side of the car.

The driver was flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, but released no information about the driver, his condition or the crash investigation Monday.
Authorities don't know how the fire started in the BMW.

"This is another example of how the inboard dash cameras are really showing heroic efforts of law enforcement across the United States," Sheriff Deryl Loar said.

In March, Deputies Robert Sunkel and Linda Nolan rescued Cheryl Coons from her vehicle after it burst into flames at Oslo Road and 66th Avenue. Coons later died from her injuries.

Dozer, as 26-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, said he has never been involved in a vehicle fire rescue. But 20 years ago on a chilly December day, Dozer dove into a pond near Citrus Elementary School to save three children whose boat had overturned.

(c)2016 the Treasure Coast Newspapers (Stuart, Fla.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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