San Antonio Police Sgt. Jesse Garcia was on his way home Saturday morning when he saw a burning vehicle.
“I just ran up to the fire and never in my mind did I think that there would be people inside the vehicle,” said Garcia. "I heard her [the driver] saying, 'I don't want to die this way. I don't want to die, don't leave me.'"
The car, which had two girls inside ages 17 and 19, slammed into a utility pole near 1604 and Sulfur Springs. The driver was trapped under her seatbelt.
"I thought to myself, ‘How am I going to get her out of here?'" continued Garcia. "So I took the seatbelt and put it in the fire so it would burn, and when it was burning it I kept stretching it so it would pop. Finally it popped, and once I popped it, I was able to get her out."
Garcia then went back for the other teen with the assistance of two passing motorists, one who happened to be wearing a flame retardant suit.The two motorists have yet to be identified by SAPD.
Garcia’s motorcycle helmet and cell phone partially melted from the heat, but he was able to radio for help.
The two girls suffered broken bones and several burns; Garcia had several burns on his arm and neck. San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and the department honored Sgt. Garcia with a Certificate of Merit.
“The fact of the matter remains is that Sgt. Garcia is hero in every sense of the word and represents every member of this police department very, very, well,” McManus said.
Garcia, who has been with the department since 1985 and also teaches criminal justice at San Antonio College, said he hasn’t talked to the two young women who remain in the hospital.