NORMAN, Okla. - An off-duty Cleveland County sheriff's deputy and volunteer firefighter is being hailed as a hero after he pulled a man from a burning vehicle after a crash last week in rural southeastern Cleveland County.
Kyle Turner, 27, said he was just finishing up an unsuccessful hunting outing last Wednesday and about to have dinner when he got a text message from the Cedar Country Volunteer Fire Department telling him there was an accident with injury near 180th SE and Duffy Road.
"Saw it was an accident/injury, and it was only five miles away. Jumped in my truck and took off," Turner said. "About a mile out, I could see that there was a fire. Pulled up on scene, and saw that the vehicle was on fire and then there was probably three or four other spot fires caused by the power line."
The vehicle, a 2008 Chevy Cobalt, had left the road and struck a power pole, starting a fire, and power lines covered the car - and the victim, a 56-year-old man, was trapped.
"He pretty much got himself out of the car, except for his foot was caught up in the door sill. The ground around it — it was hot. Where he was at still in the danger zone,” Turner said.
Turner said he donned his turnout gear he keeps in his truck, carefully navigated the power lines hanging off the vehicle and was able to free the man and start to drag him to safety. That's when Turner said two other officers showed up, Deputy Chazdon Anderson and Master Sgt. Brandon Dominic arrived and helped pull the pair clear of the car and wires.
Normally, protocol calls for utility workers to arrive to cut off the power before approaching downed lines. But, Turner said there was no time to waste.
"It couldn’t wait. It was a life or death situation," he said.
Even though he was wearing his turnout gear, Turner said he wasn't sure if he could get to the car, considering how hot the fire was burning.
"I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t think I would be able to get to him with my gear on," he said.
The man was taken to the hospital and, as of Monday afternoon, is expected to recover.
Turner, who downplayed his efforts in saving the man, said he was just doing what he's supposed to do - something Cleveland County Sheriff Todd Gibson echoed, calling Turner, Anderson and Dominic heroes for their actions.
"The actions of (Turner) and the other deputies who responded to this event were very heroic, and we’re very proud of them," Gibson said. "They would all not want recognition for the job well done, however it’s important to recognize when they do good work."