Woman, 71, rescued from burning car by officer, resident

Photo courtesy of Fox 2 The burnt remains of a Ford Explorer at a Credit Union One ATM at Fort Street and Moran Dec. 8.

Photo courtesy of Fox 2
The burnt remains of a Ford Explorer at a Credit Union One ATM at Fort Street and Moran Dec. 8.

By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK – With flames shooting up to 10 feet high Police Cpl. Joe Sparks and a resident rescued a 71-year-old woman trapped in a burning car Dec. 8.

The woman couldn’t open the driver’s door, because it was parked next to an ATM.

Once Sparks arrived, he worked on coaxing the woman to the passenger side, which meant her crawling over the console. She fell into the back seat and Sparks, along with resident Charles Greathouse, pulled her from the flame-engulfed SUV.

“I wasn’t sure if we were going to get her out at first,” Sparks said, noting the melting car.

Sparks said all the controls on the door panel were melted. The only option was to pull her through the rear passenger window. Sparks said he can’t thank Greathouse enough for his help.

The officer said the civilian didn’t have to help, but he was a “tremendous help. He just came right along and helped out.”

Sparks said he’s been through some harried situations in his 17 years on the force, such as being shot at, but he hadn’t had to retrieve someone from a burning vehicle.

Greathouse said he didn’t hesitate to rush to help the woman. He knew that somebody’s loved one was in trouble.

“Somebody had to do something to help her out,” Greathouse said, noting the estimated 15 to 20 people standing around screaming and recording video, yet doing nothing to help the trapped woman.

When asked if he was scared, Greathouse said he wasn’t, until afterwards when he thought about what he had done. But said he wouldn’t hesitate again to help someone in need.

As of the evening of the rescue, the victim had been treated and released from the hospital and was at her house. Sparks said he was going to check on her.

(Tereasa Nims can be reached at dstreporter@gmail.com.)