Flames no obstacle
THE burn on the left side of constable Nick Corley’s face is a price he didn’t think twice about paying when he put his life on the line to save another.
The Mt Wellington officer pulled a drunk driver from a flaming car in Oranga a fortnight ago and his wounds are still healing.
“It’s the worst crash I’ve seen in two years on the job. I’m so thankful it worked out so well.”
Mr Corley and his partner, constable Richard Siebert, were driving a man they had arrested to the Auckland central police station at 2am when they came across the scene.
“It was pretty surreal. We turned off Mt Smart Rd into Rockfield Rd and all of a sudden up ahead I saw a big plume of black smoke. I thought it must be a house on fire.”
As they got closer, he realised it was a car on fire in the middle of the road.
“It was fully ablaze. There was a guy running hysterically around the perimeter of the car. On closer inspection, I saw there was a guy sitting in the car.”
The two officers radioed for help and Mr Corley ran to the car, beckoning for the driver to get out while Mr Siebert directed traffic and kept bystanders clear of the scene.
“I thought the car might blow up. He was kind of looking at me, but looking through me. I think the car had flipped and he was really out of it.”
The flaming vehicle had crashed through four properties and snapped a power pole in half after the driver lost control.
The car was so damaged the driver was sitting where the backseat should have been.
“The flames started to go more over the top of the car and I realised we only had a minute,” says Mr Corley
He managed to get his upper body through the smashed driver’s window and was trying to pull the man out when a burst of fire knocked him to the ground, leaving him with burns on his face and arm.
He sat stunned on the ground, with the driver still looking at him from the car.
The driver’s friend and former passenger then tried to pull the man out and Mr Corley was able to get up and join in.
Between them they managed to pull the man free and dragged him away from the car.
“As we looked back, where we were was completely engulfed in flames.
“We all realised it was a pretty close thing. The man we pulled out had his friend to thank as much as me.”
By that time other police and ambulance staff had ar- rived and the two men from the vehicle were treated for cuts and injuries.
Mr Corley was the only one to suffer burns.
Blood test results later showed the 40-year-old driver was over the legal blood alcohol limit.
The serious crash unit is investigating the case.
Senior sergeant Danny Meade says he has recommended both constables be recognised for their heroic actions.
“In their own words they said if they hadn’t taken those actions, the man would not have survived.”
Charges have yet to be laid.
Lifesaver: Constable Nick Corley was burned while saving a man from a blazing car.