MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - Dramatic police body camera video shows Mountain View Police Officer Travis Herbek running toward a burning car and then pulling the injured driver to safety.
Herbek has been on the force in Mountain View for two years. He has never had a call quite like this one of a car fire and a victim nearby on a dark roadway. Many people said he handled it like a pro.
Herbek worked the graveyard shift last Thursday expecting a routine work day. At 3:30 a.m. he was called out to a single vehicle accident on Central Expressway.
"I just happen to be available for a car crash in the middle of the night and it turned out to be quite the scene," said Herbek.
When he got there, he found a car fully engulfed in flames. Video from his body worn camera shows him jumping the center divide and racing to the car. As he gets closer, he sees the driver lying in the fast lane.
"Ongoing traffic is still coming," said Herbek. "His car is making some popping sounds definitely on fire as I’m close enough to tell."
The driver had serious injuries to his arms and legs. Should he move him? What if he has a back or head injury? Will the car explode?
"The extreme takes precedent," said Herbek. "The car you can hear it on the video is popping in the background. I did what I could. I tried to keep his head and neck level with his spine and dragged him across the lane there."
He dragged him some 20 feet to safety. Herbek credits his training and his experience. Before Mountain View, the 29-year-old was a police officer in his native New Jersey alongside his father who wrote on Mountain View’s Facebook page, "Being his father he makes me proud every day."
"I ended up being a police officer with my dad for the first five years of my career," said Herbek. "It gave me a good foundation."
While Herbek appreciates people calling him a hero, he said it’s the nature of his job.
"I work with a team of six people and I think anyone that was closer to that fire than I was would have done the same perhaps even a better job," said Herbek.
Police said the 39-year-old driver from Arizona was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover. It’s unclear what caused him to strike a tree and spark that engine fire.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.