Video shows off-duty officer pulling man from burning car

Two good samaritans helped officer

Published On: Dec 26 2013 07:51:24 AM EST   Updated On: Dec 26 2013 07:54:32 AM EST
LOS ANGELES -

Officer Donald Thompson was in the right place at the right time to save a man's life when a car burst into flames.

Thompson says he was off-duty and driving on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles when he spotted the car engulfed in flames, sending a huge plume of smoke into the air.

The LAPD bomb squad member says he instantly knew what he needed to do.

"He was going to die," Thompson told Local 6 CBS affiliate KCAL. "Another 10 to 15 seconds, no one would have been able to get in there. That was just the time when I said 'hey -- it's now or never.'"

Thompson reached into the car, unbuckled the seat belt and pulled the unconscious driver out.

"There was so much fire and it just gets into your head," Thompson told KCAL. "The smoke and the heat -- it's just unbelievable how much heat there is with that fire."

Two good samaritans ran over and took the unconscious driver to the other side of the freeway as Thompson checked to see if anyone else was inside the car.

Thompson says he was simply doing what he was trained to do.

"I don't consider myself a hero," Thompson told KCAL. "When I'm in those shoes, it just doesn't feel that way."