Troopers make fiery rescue

March 4, 2012 8:45:07 PM PST
Two Illinois state troopers received minor injuries Sunday while rescuing a driver from a burning car on an exit ramp of I-94.

State police Sgt. Henry Spight and Trooper Jacqueline Del Villar sustained burns and cuts to their hands and suffered smoke inhalation while pulling the driver to safety after she struck a tree on the exit ramp to Sibley Boulevard, state police said.

Spight and Del Villar arrived on the scene and found a Chevy Tahoe engulfed in flames with the driver trapped.

"I ran to the SUV and I saw there was the driver of the vehicle, her body was hanging outside of the driver's side door, and I looked inside," Del Villar said. "Both of her legs were stuck.

Spight said he began dousing her legs, which he believed bought them time.

"I knew from prior experience that it is a matter of time before this vehicle is going to be fully engulfed," Spight said. "It doesn't take long for a vehicle like that to become fully involved."

The troopers pushed on her ankles to free Tamara Jackson, 34, of Chicago, who was treated at an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. She has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

State police said she was so intoxicated, she did not know she was involved in an accident.

Jackson did have a passenger with her who managed to get out of the single-car wreck on her own unharmed.

Troopers say several unidentified people stopped to help. They also note, if alcohol were not allegedly involved, no one's life would have been at risk.

"Afterwards, like in this event, you somewhat think about it because that person brought me into a situation that perhaps if they were not impaired, I wouldn't even be in that situation," Spight said.

State police, once again, encouraged sober driving.

"We've had a very tough winter so far," said state police Lt. Jeffrey Pfotenhauer. "We've had a rash of wrong way drivers and alcohol related fatalities, so this is the time for us to plead to the motoring public, be responsible, be accountable for their actions."