PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland police officers Kristin Ford and Sierra Hancock were “in the right place at the right time” to rescue 3 people from a car that was tipped on its side and on fire in the early hours of Monday.
Ford and Hancock had just been released from another call around 3:20 a.m. when they noticed a car on its side on SE Powell underneath I-205.
“It was wedged between a pole and essentially a cement wall of the overpass there,” Ford told KOIN 6 News. “We jumped out and I think Officer Hancock and I must have at the same time saw that it was on fire.”
Their natural instincts and training kicked in.
“We both ran back to our cars and got fire extinguishers,” Ford said. “She ran up to the car first actually and started extinguishing the fire, so I just went to work on the windshield.”
But there was also a real sense of urgency.
“We could hear people screaming inside. It was filled with either smoke inside the vehicle or probably the air bag fumes inside, but we could hear people yelling,” she said. “We couldn’t tell how many where inside the car at the time, but just started breaking the glass.”
Within minutes, backup officers arrived from the East Precinct and jumped into action right away.
“I could see they were having a hard time getting the windshield opened and I thought, oh, I have a tool for that,” Sgt. Steven Sharp said. “So I got that and ran over started knocking down the window and we were able to get two more people out of the car.”
All 3 adults in the crash walked away OK. Ford and Hancock suffered minor cuts on their hands from the glass.
Investigators continue to look into the cause of the crash but early indications are that another driver cut them off. The rescued people were not impaired, officials said.
“What really makes me proud is the officers,” Sharp said. “They jumped right in, did exactly what they’re trained to do. They saw people in distress and went after it.”
Officer Ford said PPB has some of the best training in the state. That and being “in the right place at the right time” made a good outcome.
“This is what we’re here for,” she said.