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Titusville officer pulls man away from burning car moments before it explodes

Sgt. TJ Wright one of four officers who rescued driver last week

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – The first Titusville police officer at the scene of a fiery car crash and explosion gave his firsthand account of the incident to News 6 Monday.

"It's our first priority to save lives," Sgt. Tyler "TJ" Wright said. "Anything could have happened at that point to him."

Sgt. Wright was one of four officers who rescued a driver police said crashed into a dead end concrete barricade on Riveredge Drive Thursday night.

The Toyota RAV 4 police said was being driven by Phillip Thistle, 44, from New Jersey flipped upon the collision and caught fire.

Wright's voice can be heard on dashcam video as he arrived at the scene.

"I just happened to be about a mile away," Wright said.

Running toward the flames, Wright said he tried calming the man down, noticing he was burned.

"The vehicle was on its side, fully on fire," Wright said. "We could see his injuries. Our main conversation was, 'Are you by yourself? Is anyone else with you?"'

Wright and the other three officers then dragged Thistle away from the fire, just seconds before the explosion.

The victim was rushed to the hospital.

Police said on Monday that Thistle is still recovering at the hospital.

Wright, his rescuer, was too modest to call himself a hero.

"It's nothing I wouldn't do another day or any officer here. We would do it every day," the officer said.

Titusville police have not release further information about what caused the crash.

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