By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – A 71-year-old woman recalled in a letter how the calming voices of Police Cpl. Joe Sparks and civilian Charles Greathouse saying they would get her out of her flame-engulfed vehicle made her feel safe.
The letter was read moments before the two men were given citations from Police Chief Raymond Watters at the City Council meeting Feb. 6.
With flames shooting about 15 feet, Sparks and Greathouse worked to rescue Dorothy Tank, who was trapped in her vehicle Dec. 8 at a Credit Union One ATM, 4111 Fort St.
“I have a deep sense of appreciation,” Tank wrote, who was apologetic that she could not attend the meeting to see the two receive the awards.
Watters recalled the incident before presenting the citations.
Tank’s Ford Explorer was completely engulfed in flames and the woman could not get out of the vehicle because of its proximity to the building.
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 Greathouse, pulled her from the SUV.
“I wasn’t sure if we were going to get her out at first,” Sparks said shortly after the incident.
Sparks said all the controls on the door panel were melted. The only option was to pull Tank through the rear passenger window. Sparks said he couldn’t thank Greathouse enough for his help.
The officer said the civilian didn’t have to help, but he was a “tremendous” help in getting the woman out of the burning vehicle.
Greathouse said after the incident he didn’t hesitate to rush to help the woman, he knew that somebody’s loved one was in trouble. He said someone had to do something to help her.
Tank wrote, that while people gawked and videotaped the incident, Greathouse and Sparks jumped in and saved her life.
After the incident, Greathouse said he wasn’t scared until after he thought about what he had just done. Still, he said he wouldn’t hesitate to help someone in need.
He was accompanied at the meeting with his wife and three children, who were proud of him.
Tank thanked Sparks and hopes to meet Greathouse and thank him also.
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)