Chris Murdock, a reserve duty officer for the Brazoria County Sheriff's office near Houston, Texas, was driving in the city of La Porte around 5:30 a.m. Thursday when he saw a car engulfed in smoke.
As he pulled over to help, another passerby swooped in and ran to the SUV, opening the door and pulling the driver out of the vehicle just before it burst into flames.
"He's the hero. That guy saved him," Murdock told Houston station KHOU-TV. "I [had] no idea if there's anybody else in [the SUV] or not. I [was] hoping somebody shows up with a fire extinguisher or a hose. I'd have been happy with a garden hose, anything at that point."
Police have identified the "hero" as Daniel Silvas Jr., a La Porte resident who lives one mile from where the crash occurred.
The driver whom Silvas pulled to safety was the only person in the vehicle. He escaped without any major injuries after a harrowing crash that sent his car off the road, flying through the air into traffic signs, light poles and two curbs before it stopped in the parking lot of the office of a local optometrist.
A surveillance camera outside the office captured the dramatic rescue.
"We're really blessed that there were no patients here and that he didn't get into the building and that there were no passengers inside the car," Dr. Lisa Frazier, the owner of the optometry office, told ABCNews.com. "If he had gotten into the office, the office would be no more because the flames were that hot."
The severity of the crash was heightened because the driver kept his foot on the accelerator while airborne.
"We're talking about a rescue instead of a fatality because he didn't hesitate at all," Frazier said of Silvas. "He just got out and walked straight into it."
The driver, who was not named, was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. His current condition is not known.
KHOU reported the driver had beer with him in the car, according to witnesses.
Charges are now pending against him for DWI second offense, Sgt. John Krueger of the La Porte Police Department told ABCNews.com today.
- Crime & Justice