SCHERERVILLE, Ind. (WLS) --A Schererville, Ind., man owes his life to a quick-thinking police officer who helped him escape a house fire Friday night.
Officer Brian Daniels was first on the scene of the fire. He didn't wait for firefighters to arrive and rushed to rescue the 61-year-old, who he knew to be inside.
Daniels got to the back door just as the man collapsed trying to escape.
"His face was purple," Daniels said. "Ended up dragging him partway out of the house. He did not have a heartbeat and was not breathing."
Daniels administered CPR, trying to revive him. But the fire was starting to burn out of control.
"The backdoor was still open," Daniels said. "More flames and smoke were coming out. The windows started to explode. There was a group of neighbors in the backyard, they helped me drag him another 15 feet where I continued to do CPR."
Firefighters and paramedics arrived just as Daniels was able to revive the man. And it wasn't a moment too soon.
"He is on home oxygen continuously for various medical issues, so there are numerous oxygen tanks in the house that we were initially concerned about," said Schererville Assistant Fire Chief David Meyer.
Firefighters believe the homeowner may have fallen asleep while smoking and that is what caused the fire. His neighbor and good friend, Jim Kalemba, is the one who called 911.
"When the ambulance came he was vomiting blood and they were concerned about how much smoke he inhaled," Kalemba said.
Fire officials said the victim was air-lifted in critical condition to Stroger Hospital in Chicago where he is currently recovering.