Off-duty officer praised after rescuing two from burning car in California

National News

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. (KTXL) – Quick thinking from an off-duty California police officer is being praised after he rescued two people whose car went up in flames.

Officer Mark Afanasev described the scene he saw after a car crashed into a pole and burst into flames in Stockton.

“I looked over, I saw a car flipping over and sliding onto its roof,” Afanasev said. “The second car was sliding into a pole.”

It was then that Afanasev sprang into action to save the people in the car.

“The only thing I could think of, these people are going to burn if I don’t help them,” he explained.

A man was able to get out of the car, while Afanasev ran into the flames to rescue the woman. While Afanasev jumped in, his wife called 911.

The seven-year officer with the Stockton Police Department says his training kicked in.

“I didn’t even feel the heat when I went into the flames. I didn’t feel it at all,” Afanasev said.

All of us at the police department are extremely proud of Mark’s heroic actions. Even while off-duty, Mark put his own life in danger in order to help rescue the occupants inside that burning car. This is just another reminder that law enforcement officers are never off the job when duty calls.

Police Chief Eric Jones

Afanasev says he was at the right place at the right time because he was contemplating going to bed and filling up his car the next day, but something told him not to wait.

Afanasev says he didn’t think what he did was anything special, and he hopes others would do the same thing in that situation.

“I can live with a couple of burns or whatever injuries I might get. I wouldn’t be able to live with standing by knowing that I could have helped somebody and now they are gone,” he told KTXL.

The two people involved in the crash were taken to a local hospital. The cause of the crash is not known.

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