"It was quite dramatic. It would have been a lot worse had it not gone the way it went," Capt. John Lynch said Tuesday. "They saved his life."
Last Wednesday, police were called after a vehicle left the roadway and caught fire, police said. Officers responded to 198 New Canaan Road at about 8:45 p.m. and found Hunter Stanfield, 26, of 30 Bittersweet Trail, Wilton, trapped in the front of his vehicle while the engine compartment burned.
Six officers, including two sergeants who were during traffic enforcement for Thanksgiving Eve, responded to the scene.
They couldn't get the driver's door open, but they were able to get a back door and the back hatch open and crawled inside.
Stanfield's legs were jammed in the area underneath the steering wheel, and he was unable to free himself.
Sgt. David Hartman climbed into the front and worked to free Stanfield's legs as the other officers, all crammed into the vehicle, attempted to pull Stanfield out. At one point, flames from the engine compartment fire began to seep into the front passenger area, and one of the officers used a fire extinguisher in an attempt to beat it back, Lynch said.
“It was spreading fast," he said. "Time is off the essence there."
Hartman later had to be checked out at the hospital for cuts to his hand and for inhaling some of the fire extinguisher chemical, Lynch said.
Meanwhile, Sgts. Gregg Phillipson and Arnault Baker and Officers Mark Canepari, Brandon Harris and Malcolm Hayes continued to try to pull Stanfield out of the vehicle as the flames continued creeping into the passenger cabin.
Finally, the officers were able to pull Stanfield out of the vehicle and put him down on the ground. However, the flames quickly spread and fully engulfed the vehicle, forcing the officers to move Stanfield due to the heat, Lynch said.
"It was great teamwork," Lynch said.
Stanfield was taken to the hospital with undetermined injuries, Lynch said.
The case is still under police investigation, he said.
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