Flames no ob­sta­cle

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Janie Smith

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.

Photo: FIONA GOODALL

Life­saver: Con­sta­ble Nick Cor­ley was burned while sav­ing a man from a blaz­ing car.

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