WEST MELBOURNE, FL – A man crashed into a ditch in West Melbourne, Florida and his SUV caught on fire.
Officers with two different agencies were on the scene almost immediately and were able to remove the victim from the SUV and save his life. At least two of the officers had to be treated for smoke inhalation and treated at a local hospital.
— WFTV Channel 9 (@WFTV) November 4, 2021
West Melbourne Police Officer Joshua Kennedy told WESH2 News that they suspect that the driver of the vehicle, who was not identified, suffered from some type of medical emergency as he was in the parking lot of a local hotel, the Hampton Inn & Suites.
Because of that episode, the driver lost control of his SUV which caused it to crash into a ditch on the backside of the hotel and catch fire. Kennedy said:
“The vehicle was fully engulfed at one point.”
Four heroic officers jumped to the rescue, pulling a man from a burning car in West Melbourne in Florida. One officer in the video is seen using a fire extinguisher to break the glass so that they are able to pull the man out of the smoky car. pic.twitter.com/V18SqONEfc
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) November 5, 2021
Officers from both the Palm Bay Police Department and the West Melbourne Police Department had already been on the scene while investigating an unrelated complaint. Because of this, officers were able to jump into action quickly to pull the man out of the burning car.
Officers are seen on body camera video working to get into the car that was locked.
Ofc. Christina Martin, Officer Scott Kenney, and Corporal Chris Richards from the Palm Bay Police Department are seen using different objects to break the windows to gain access into the compartment area of the vehicle.
Once the window was broken, Det. Donovan Brickhouse from the West Melbourne Police Department is seen reaching into the car to get the man. Det. Brickhouse is heard on the body camera asking the man:
“Help me help you.”
While the officers were working to get the subject out of the vehicle, you can hear officers coughing as they were inhaling the fumes caused by the burning car.
Not once do you see any of the officers stop trying to aid the man, even though it was difficult for them to breathe.
Thankfully, the officers were able to remove the man from the burning vehicle and get him to safety.
The subject was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment as well as three of the officers that were working to rescue the man from apparent smoke inhalation. Kennedy, when asked about the rescue by WESH2, said:
“That’s what we sign up for. We come into this knowing that there’s going to be situations where we have to make those split-second decisions to be able to help somebody.”
This is not the first time that officers with the Palm Bay Police Department have sprung into action by saving someone in a burning vehicle.
In 2016, officers with the agency responded to a vehicle crash that had gone off of a steep embankment along US 1 in Palm Bay and caught fire.
As officers and bystanders went down the embankment to save the driver, they had difficulty in getting the man out as well as going back up the embankment. Sergeant Steve Shyttle (retired) at the time gave praise to the community that was there that helped them pull the driver up the embankment and to medical aid. He said:
“There were people that helped us. It was a common effort to save somebody. Without them, we couldn’t have done it.”
— Brevard County News (@brevardnews) October 17, 2016
Sgt. Shyttle and Officer Ryan Van Note, with the help of those bystanders, were able to form a human chain that allowed them to pull the driver out of the vehicle and up to safety. Van Note, in speaking of the efforts to save him, said:
“We were pretty concerned about it. We knew we had to get him out in a hurry. He [the driver] was not understanding the severity of the situation he was in.”
Thankfully, in this situation like the recent one, the driver of the vehicle survived. He was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for his injuries and released a couple of days later.
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RUTLAND, VT – On October 22, 2021, law enforcement officials from multiple agencies rescued three women from an apartment in Vermont, where they were believed to be held for the purposes of human trafficking.
According to a press release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, multiple residences in Vermont had come under suspicion for drug and human trafficking activity.
Law enforcement officials also received information that “women were being confined against their will at one of the residences.”
A collaborative effort between several agencies followed, with an Air and Machine Operations (AMO) aircrew conducting air surveillance, and with Homeland Security-led federal agents and Vermont State Troopers operating on the ground to execute search warrants at the homes.
All in all, the cooperating agencies in the effort included:
“the AMO aircrew… members of HSI Burlington, The Center for Countering Human Trafficking, Vermont State Police Tactical Services Unit, HSI Boston Field Office Special Response Team, Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Narcotics Investigation Unit, and the uniformed troopers from the Field Force Division, Rutland City Police Department, and Rutland County Sheriff’s Office.”
While executing the warrants, law enforcement officials discovered “evidence of potential human trafficking that included a suspicious padlocked apartment door and chain-link storage areas.”
Three women were found behind that padlocked door.
According to a press release from the Vermont State Police, “[t]he women did not appear to be injured, but out of an abundance of caution they were checked and cleared by medical personnel.”
The Vermont State Police also called in a victim witness advocate whose specialty is human trafficking, to be with the women at the scene.
According to the CBP, the human trafficking of these women is currently being investigated further.
One local resident reported to myNBC5:
“We watched them at both places take out big black luggage bins, like evidence bins. Huge.”
One arrest has been made so far, that of an unidentified man from New York who will face charges for unlawful firearm possession.
Jeremiah Rogers, Acting Director, Manassas Air Branch, said of the operation in a statement:
“The collaboration between CBP, HSI, and our law enforcement partners provided for a successful rescue of women being held against their will.”
“Our aircrews continuously partner with our federal and local law enforcement partners to provide an integral asset from the air.”
Local resident Tobey Fuller, who lives in the building where the women were found, told MyNBC5 that he did not know the people who lived in the apartment, but he knew they were involved in drugs.
“It used to be quiet when I first got here. But we’d get woken up in the middle of the night, they’re either blasting music or fights in the hallway over drugs.
“We know they’re selling crack, we know they’re selling heroin.”
Another local resident, Marie Roberts, stated that the area was “a very ‘drug-oriented’ neighborhood.”
Vermont Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, who reportedly has worked with the U.S. government as an attorney on human trafficking cases, issued a statement on the case, noting that human trafficking “happens in places we least expect it.”
She went on to say:
“In our communities, if something doesn’t feel right, oftentimes we have to trust our gut and recognize that there are resources available to make reports.
“If we believe someone is a victim — to reach out to them, so they know support is available.”
MyNBC5 reports that investigators stated “[a]dditional charges could be coming,” but there is no indication at this time as to what other persons or charges may be involved.
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