Two Maryland police officers are being hailed as heroes for saving an unconscious man from a burning car.
Officers Cody Fields and Brian Nesbitt were awarded the Medal of Valor today for their heroism and bravery during the incident in September. The medal is the Montgomery County Police Department's highest honor. Fields and Nesbitt were also presented with the Gold Award in a ceremony today for their life-saving efforts, the dash cam footage of which was made public for the first time.
“Officers Cory Fields and Brian Nesbitt placed their own lives in danger and exhibited uncommon bravery and dedication when they rescued Mr. Isreal, who was unconscious, from his burning vehicle," Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said.
Just after midnight on Sept. 1, Fields and Nesbitt responded to a collision on I-495 near Silver Spring, Maryland. When Fields got there, the car engine was on fire with the 34-year-old driver still inside, police said.
Since the driver's side was against the wall dividing the highway, Fields used his baton to break the passenger window to reach in the car and unlock the door. A great deal of smoke can be seen billowing out of the white sedan on the dash cam video.
After Nesbitt arrived, he entered the smoke-filled car through the back, while Fields entered through the passenger side. Together, they were able to pull the driver out shortly before the fire began to spread from the engine to the interior of the car.
In the video, the officers are seen tending to the driver as he lies on the pavement. The driver was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said. Fields and Nesbitt were checked by medical personnel on the scene.
Firefighters who responded to the scene said that if it weren't for the "quick and heroic" actions of Fields and Nesbitt, the driver would have have succumbed to either smoke inhalation or the flames from the fire, police said.
Fields has been an officer with the department for about three years, while Nesbitt has been with the department for about 12 years, police said.
A spokesperson for the Montgomery County Police Department said the officers were "composed" in their swift thinking and actions.
"It takes a special person to do what they did, said Natasha Plotnicov. "It was absolutely outstanding."