PALM BAY, Fla. – Palm Bay police are praising the good Samaritans who stepped in to help assist two police officers and save a man from a fiery crash Sunday morning.
The accident was reported at 11:30 a.m. near the 4700 block of Dixie Highway in Palm Bay.
Witnesses told News 6 that a red Jeep Cherokee was headed north when it rear-ended another car and drove into an embankment.
Shannon Perez of Satellite Beach captured video of the rescue on her cellphone.
"I think it's good that the police get, you know, some coverage of how they are heroic and they save lives, and I think that's amazing," Perez said.
The Palm Bay Police Department held a newspress conference on Monday to thank the citizens who stepped in to help and the officers who saved the crash victim.
"I couldn’t be more proud of the officers and the citizens who stepped up to help yesterday," Palm Bay Police public information officer Mike Bandish said.
Tom Sais told News 6 that he was the first civilian to enter the vehicle as flames continued to move closer.
"[I started] climbing on through and there he was up in the air, hanging still strapped into his seat belt, hanging sideways," Sais said.
Sais said the male driver fought off his help, but it didn't stop him from continuing to try to save his life.
"I was praying out loud, praying as loud as I could, saying, 'Hey, not today. Today we are not going to burn,'" Sais said.
Palm Bay police arrived with fire extinguishers and began trying to get the driver out.
The first officer at the scene was 21-year police veteran Sgt. Steve Shytle.
Officer Ryan Van Note began trying to put out the fire while Shytle got the driver out.
Shytle said the victim was holding onto the seats of the car as they were attempting to pull him out and they had to use a Taser on him twice.
“It was a force that was used to save his life,” said Shytle.
After getting the driver out, the two officers had to climb the hill where the vehicle had fallen, carrying the driver with them.
Shytle estimated that it was a 30-to-40-foot drop.
In the rescue video, an officer is heard shouting for everyone to grab hold of one another, forming a human chain to get to the top of the embankment.
If it weren't for the citizens who made a chain to help the officers and the crash victim up the hill, Shytle said he’s not sure if they would have made it out.
Shytle said that when they finally made it to the top of the embankment he exchanged a few hugs with the people who helped them get out.
The driver was taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center with minor injuries.
Authorities don't yet know what caused the crash yet.