Rookie Volusia County Sheriff's deputy saves driver from burning truck

Wesley Blum helps pull man from pickup in DeLand

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DeLAND, Fla. - A rookie Volusia County Sheriff's deputy and his trainer rescued a man from a burning pickup truck Saturday in DeLand.

Wesley Blum, 26, an Army veteran who has served in Afghanistan, and Kenneth Shields, 51, pulled the man from the vehicle, which veered off East New York Avenue before crashing into some trees and coming to rest in the yard of a home.

The truck burst into flames with the driver still inside and witnesses called 911, deputies said. 

Blum jumped onto the truck's running board and with the help of an unidentified bystander started tugging on the driver, said the Sheriff's Office, which added that Shields grabbed his patrol car's fire extinguisher and used it to tame the flames in the truck's cab.

The extinguisher emptied, however, and the flames reignited with the driver still trapped inside, deputies said. The fire then intensified, prompting Shields to pull Blum who still had a grip on the driver and was able to pull him free.

The condition of the driver, identified by the Florida Highway Patrol as 21-year-old Robert Wayne Demonte, of Deltona, suffered serious injuries and was taken to Halifax Medical Center.  Two others in the car were also hurt in the crash, the FHP said.

Blum was hired by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office in June. Shields has been with the Sheriff's Office for six years.

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