Chicago police officers rescue 2 men from burning car in Gresham

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Four police officers pulled two men from a burning car just minutes after a violent crash on the city's south side early Sunday morning.

The officers were honored Sunday night, as well as a teen who helped make their life saving act possible.

The car was on fire and burning fast. The four Chicago police officers say they had no choice but to act quickly if they were going rescue the people inside. A 15-year-old resident jumped into action, as well, helping the officers buy some much needed time.

The four officers think the basketball-playing teenager is their hero. Fifteen-year-old John Sweet said the cops are the real heroes after both helped save lives when a car crashed and caught fire around 2:20 a.m. Sunday morning in the 7700-block of S. Loomis in the city's Gresham neighborhood.

"I could see the fire, the dashboard on fire, so we had to act right then and there," said Officer Phoebe Flores, Chicago Police Department.

There was no time for officers Flores, Eric King, Josue Pivaral and Shadi Sweiss to wait for the fire department to arrive, as three people were trapped inside the car. The driver managed to crawl out, but two unconscious passengers remained in the vehicle.

"I was afraid of the car potentially exploding on us," said Officer Eric King, Chicago Police Department.

"We could see the guy at the window," said Officer Josue Pivarel, Chicago Police Department. "You could tell he couldn't breathe with all the smoke coming into the dash."

That is when Sweet sprang into action. He and his mom woke up to a loud crash noise. After seeing the burning car, the teenager called 911 and ran to get a fire extinguisher.

"I ran pretty fast," Sweet said. "I was tired when I ran back out here. I ran pretty fast."

"I'm really proud of him," Linday Sweet said of her son. "When he asked where fire extinguisher was, I said, 'It's in the kitchen,' and he went to get it."

John Sweet handed the fire extinguisher to Officer Sweiss. While it didn't extinguish the whole fire, it bought the officers vital time to break a window and pull two men out safely.

"I mean, I wouldn't say so," Sweet said when asked if he was a hero. "That's what you do when people need help."

During a time when the community and police are often at odds, John Sweet and the officers say their heroic effort is a great example how police and residents can work together.

The driver and passengers were taken to hospitals in stable condition. The driver was charged with a number of violations, including excessive speed.
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