Bystanders rescue Johnston officer from burning patrol car
Posted September 2, 2013 5:34 p.m. EDT
Updated September 2, 2013 6:31 p.m. EDT
Wilsons Mills, N.C. — A group of people pulled a Wilson's Mills police officer from his patrol car Sunday after the car wound up in a ditch and on fire.
Kathy Hoffman came upon the wreck on Wilson's Mills Road about 11 a.m. Sunday and recorded the rescue on her cellphone.
"I was getting out and thought, 'What in the world's going on?'" Hoffman said Monday.
Her two-minute video shows the patrol car in a muddy drainage ditch, with smoke coming from under its hood. A growing crowd of people work to pry the driver's door open and pull Officer Ashley McLamb to safety.
"There's flames under the car," Hoffman yells to the rescuers during the video. "It's going to blow! Get him back, get him back."
Hoffman said someone first tried to kick in the car's window before several people were able to yank the door open.
Terry Joyner told Hoffman that he, his son and another man found a dazed McLamb in the wrecked patrol car and worked quickly to get him out.
"We just started snatching the door open till we got through ... and we pulled the door all the way open, and that's when we drug him out," Joyner said.
Hoffman said McLamb couldn't respond to questions.
"I asked him, 'Do you know your name?' He said no. 'Can you count 1,2,3?' No. 'Are you hurt anywhere? Can you tell us?' He just really could not talk or respond," she said.
McLamb suffered no serious injuries and was recovering at home Monday.
Police still haven't determined what caused McLamb to crash, and Chief David Hess said there's no evidence that a beating McLamb received five months ago played a role.
In April, McLamb was hospitalized after he tried to apprehend four people suspected of robbing a home and was assaulted by them.
"We're very blessed that people in the community were there, they were proactive and that God placed them at the right place at the right time," Hess said.
"I just really hope the gentleman's OK," Hoffman said. "I'd like to find out how he's doing. We all have said prayers for him."