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Hero officer: Trapped driver kept yelling 'I can't get out!'

Posted June 19, 2009
Updated June 20, 2009

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— A Fayetteville police officer who worked to save two people from a burning van Thursday night said he doesn't consider himself a hero, but he hopes the people who were injured survive.

The calls for help are etched in Officer Mark Jodoin's mind.

"(The driver) kept yelling over and over, 'I can't get out! I can't get out!,'" Jodoin recalled.

Hero officer: Trapped driver kept yelling 'I can't get out!' Officer helps save trapped motorists

Jodoin responded to a two-vehicle wreck at Gillis Hill Road and Celtic Drive shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday. There, he saw fire coming from the front of a Chevy Astro van and two people trapped inside – Terry Coonfield, 46, of Raeford, and his mother, Ardella Coonfield.

Glen Coonfield, who identified himself as Ardella's oldest son, said his mother died after getting to the hospital.

'I knew we needed to get the people out'

Using an extinguisher, Jodoin worked feverishly trying get the mother and son out of the van.

"I knew we needed to get the people out of the van," Jodoin said. "The fire was engulfing the entire engine compartment. I had to bend the door frame from the top upper corner down to the handle in order to get enough room to try and get the guy out."

The officer, who has been on the force nine years, had to use his extinguisher three times because the flames kept reigniting.

"That's what I was worried about, was it was going to get bad enough where I wasn't going to have a chance to get the people out," he said.

Firefighters got to the scene a short time later and helped Jodoin with the rescue. Emergency teams were able to cut the Coonfields out of the van.

Crews took the Coonfields to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where Ardella Coonfield died. Family members said that Terry Coonfield was in intensive care and had extensive but non-life-threatening injuries.

Glen Coonfield and his sister, Toni Cooksey, wrote to WRAL to thank Jodoin for helping their mother pass away in peace and rescuing their brother.

"Officer Jodoin deserves to be recognized as a hero, and he has my eternal gratitude for getting my brother and mother out before the fire got worse," Cooksey wrote.

Glen Coonfield said he was working as a contractor in Iraq and was flying home for the funeral.

Police said that Dana Royal, 20, of Perry Oliver Drive in Hope Mills, was responsible for the crash.

She was traveling northeast on Gillis Hill Road when she lost control of her vehicle, causing it to leave the road, police said. While attempting to return to the road, she over-corrected and crashed head-on into the Coonfield's oncoming van.

The impact caused the van to leave the road, come to rest in the bushes and catch fire, police said.

Royal suffered a serious brain injury, authorities said. She was airlifted to UNC Hospitals, where she was in critical condition. Police have not say whether they will file charges.


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  • ladyblue Jun 19, 2009

    It's good to see these officers get some positive news also. I get so tired of all the bad publicity they get. Bless this man for his determination to get them out, not knowing if thoe flames would explode into a fire ball.

  • Poposgal Jun 19, 2009

    perhaps your first thought is about the expensive ticket that you will be getting because you are always on the other side of the law...breaking it...
    Police Officers are hard working every shift even when they are rescuing people from burning vehicles. They put their lives on the line everytime they put on their uniform!
    Kudos to Officer Jodoin and the other officers that helped him that evening from Cross Creek!
    You deserve the raise that you won't be getting now thanks to all the controversy and those up top who don't have the guts to stand up for you and get the raise put through...

  • oldcorp Jun 19, 2009

    Hey - where's all the LE haters? Is the comfort of your armchairs so much that you can't come up with something to denigrate this officer or LE professionals in mass?

  • justafella Jun 19, 2009

    Hey leo-nc this story is at 17, we have police like this in Raleighwood too!

  • Historian-the naked gardener Jun 19, 2009

    Definitely a hero!!!

    Wishing the best for all concerned!!!

  • djcnty8 Jun 19, 2009

    Kudos to the Police Officer for a job well done.

    Let's see if we can get this as a top story on GOLO. Please rate it so others can see the story and put their praise in as well.

  • concerncitizen Jun 19, 2009

    SilverWolf, fortunately most of us will never have to do anything as brave as what you did or this Officer. Wipe all doubt from your mind!

  • leo-nc Jun 19, 2009

    ...and of course, this story will stay way down on the list today because God Forbid, we don't want to give credit where credit is due. You can be sure though that the next negative story on LE that comes up, it'll be splashed all over the news for everyone to see, and of course, demand he be burned at the stake.

  • leo-nc Jun 19, 2009

    "It's great to see some true heroism- actually serving and protecting, once in a while"---

    Yeah pretty nice huh? for the most part, we just don't do anything but going around collecting revenue for the state and treating people poorly. On top of that, we always abuse our powers and use them to our advantage. It's just what we do but every once in a while, we HAVE to go out and do something to save someone. Not that we want to take time away from our revenue collecting duties, but gee, what would the public think? (Sarcasm)

  • daisymom Jun 19, 2009

    I agree with jesmyopinion, i think they all deserve raises. And SilverWolf, I am sure you did everything you could. You shouldn't have a doubt about it k?