A California Highway Patrol officer has been hailed a hero after rescuing a family from a burning Toyota Camry.
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The family was driving along San Francisco with Officer Kaleo Clissold not too far behind when the car started to emit smoke. The quick-thinking officer used his vehicle’s loudspeaker and siren to get their attention.
Also on the scene was photographer Vern Fisher of the Monterey Herald. Fisher took the heart-stopping video video as Clissold rushed to the scene.
Jenny Torre, who rode on the passenger’s seat, said that she had no idea what was happening. Torre’s mother was behind the wheel, and when they heard the siren, they pulled over to the parking lot. It was only after Clissold warned them of the fire that they realized the danger they were in.
“We heard a thump and I looked back and saw flames,” Torre recalled. She was the first to get out.
Also on board were two children, a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old, and they were still left in the car. That was when Clissold sprung into action.
He freed the two children from the back of the car before the smoke got worse. Last to come out of the vehicle was Torre’s mom. She needed to climb out of the passenger’s seat just because her doors were locked.
While social media was quick to name Clissold as a hero, the adults in the car received backlash for not acting quickly. Relatives defended the family by saying that they could not act immediately “because of shock” as the Monterey Herald reported.
A rescue and fire team reported to the area so they could put out the fire and immediately took the victims to a hospital nearby so they could be treated for smoke inhalation.