FREMONT, Calif. (KTVU) - Witness cell phone video captured a daring rescue by a Fremont police officer of a man trapped inside a burning car after he crashed into a tree. The former professional MMA fighter-turned-officer is being hailed as a hero for saving the man's life. The rescue happened last Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on Curtner Road near Zapotec Drive.
When Fremont police officer Jason Trzewieczynski arrived on the scene of the car crash, he had no time to think. Cell phone video from a witness captures what he was up against, a Lexus on its side, its engine and hood heavily involved in flames and the large tree the car hit was halfway inside.
"When I got out of my car people started yelling me there was someone trapped in there, so I grabbed a fire extinguisher which didn't do much at first," said Officer Trzewieczynski. "I thought I could control the fire."
The fire was out of control. He sprayed the gas tank hoping it wouldn't explode.
"It became pretty clear that I was going to have to go inside the car and drag the man out," said Officer Trzewiecznski.
In the video, Officer Trzewieczynski opens the back hatch, removes the man's belongings and then pulls him out.
"All I could see was his hand sticking out so I was able to grab his hand," said Officer Trzewieczynski. "I got him from there. I got his arm and was able to get his shoulders and pull him out."
The officer told the man to stand up as they both walked backward to safety.
"Because of that officer that driver not only survived, but he basically walked away from it," said Beth Koenig of Fremont. "It was crazy."
Koenig witnessed the rescue and took the cell phone video, stunned at how quickly it escalated.
"Humble or not, amazing or not, trained for or not, this was absolutely a heroic act," said Koenig.
"There's nothing special about what I did," said Officer Trzewieczynski. "On or off duty, any of my partners would have done the exact same thing."
Officer Trzewieczynski doesn't care for the praise, previously a professional mixed martial arts fighter for 10 years. The 32-year-old from Buffalo, New York has been with Fremont Police for two years.
Police said the man he saved may have been under the influence, 28-year-old Fremont resident taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
This is what the man said to Officer Trzewieczynski at the hospital which made the rescue worth it.
"He's not a big fan of law enforcement, he doesn't like cops," said Officer Trzewieczynski. "But he thanked me from what I did and respects me for doing that."