Cops 'Amazed to See That Somebody Survived This'

Donald Schmelling, 84, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, is pulled from burning van in the nick of time
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2023 12:26 PM CDT
Updated Apr 30, 2023 6:40 AM CDT

An elderly Wisconsin man is lucky to be alive after police pulled him from a burning vehicle Tuesday. Kenosha police officers tried to stop the 84-year-old driver around 9pm local time after noticing he had a flat tire. "I was looking for a place to stop and all of [a] sudden the sparks came, because when the tire went flat, the rims hit the road," Donald Schmelling tells WISN. A dashcam video shows officers tailing the vehicle as the sparks become a "trail of fire," per CBS News. It looked "like a stunt scene in Hollywood," per WISN. By the time Schmelling pulled over, his entire minivan was engulfed in flames.

The footage shows Schmelling opening the van's door as officers approach on foot. "Get out, get out!" they shout. He does so but stands still for a moment before an officer grabs his jacket and pulls him out of reach of the flames, which appear to immediately grow larger. Remarkably, Schmelling suffered only minor burns. "The officers dragged him away and likely saved his life," Lt. Joseph Nosalik tells WISN. The outlet notes one officer had singed hairs on his hand, showing what a close call this was. "They were really, really lucky that it didn't combust into an explosion, because that happens oftentimes," says Nosalik. In fact, "I was amazed to see that somebody survived this." (More rescue stories.)

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