Caught on camera: Palatine police, bystanders save man trapped in burning car that drove into building

PALATINE, Ill. (WLS) -- Police officers, along with the help of several bystanders and a man's tow strap, saved a man trapped in a burning car that had crashed into a Palatine strip mall in the northwest suburbs.

A 48-year-old man drove his Kia Soul into the brick wall of a vacant store shortly before noon Friday in the 600 block of East Dundee Road, according to a Palatine police statement.

The car caught fire and the man was trapped inside, police said. Officers arrived to the scene and tried to reach him but couldn't because the burning car was stuck in the building.

Witnesses said they were sure the car was going to explode, and described the flames as relentless.

The frantic rescue was captured on video. The driver was still behind the wheel as flames consumed the whole vehicle.

"It all happened literally so fast," said Wayne Graham, manager at Petco in the mall, who rushed to the driver's aid. "I don't know even know how much time it took, but it seemed like a minute. Everything happened so quick."

"Saw a car sticking out of the building and fire coming out of the building. I probably swore, turned around, ran back and grabbed the fire extinguisher," Graham continued.

The driver did not respond as Graham and others tried to keep the flames at bay. Graham said he emptied four fire extinguishers.

"Every one of us, I'm sure, felt like the car was going to blow up at any moment," he said. "The tire blew, and you never saw five people jump so much in your life because we're all in there."
A citizen provided a tow strap, which the officer used to pull out the Kia with his squad car, police said.

The man was pulled from the car and taken by paramedics to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge with burn injuries, police said.

"He was just out of it. He was just out of it, and they hurried him right over to the ambulance because it had just pulled up," Graham said.

Police finally free the vehicle, which was still on fire as multiple good samaritans doused the flames and eventually get the driver out.

"He was just out of it and they hurried him right over to the ambulance because it had just pulled up," Graham said.

Authorities said that driver was taken to Lutheran General Hospital with burns. The severity of his injuries unclear.

Police are investigating the crash.
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