SALISBURY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A Salisbury Police officer is being hailed a hero for saving a truck driver from his burning big rig.
The Salisbury Police Department released a body cam video of the rescue that happened just before 9 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2023.
Lt. Corey Brooks saw the tractor-trailer truck slide from the far-right lane on I-85 to the left, hitting a concrete wall.
He pulled over his patrol car and saw the flames coming from underneath the truck. The fire was following the fuel line.
He knew he only had seconds to get the driver out.
“This was one of the scariest moments of my career, and at the time of the driver in the truck and me trying to get him out because, at first, I couldn’t move him,” Brooks said. “I was thinking, ‘Ok. Either I’m going to die here with him, or I’ve got to get him out of this truck.'”
The driver was breathing, but he was unresponsive. Somehow, Lt. Brooks tackled his most challenging feat of the night, budging the driver into a position where he could tug and pull him out.
“There’s no way I could just keep going or just radio in or wait for the fire department to get there, just watch him burn there in the truck,” Brooks said. “I don’t think I could mentally or psychologically cope with that.”
The relief Brooks felt was fleeting because he felt something else — the flame heat — and he could smell the rubber burning.
He knew at any point, the truck could explode.
“She just appeared out of nowhere, and she was kind of like my partner,” said Brooks of another truck driver who came to the rescue.
The truck driver helped him drag her fellow driver across several lanes of I-85.
A minute or two later, what Lt. Brooks feared when he was in the cab happened.
“All of a sudden, we kept hearing a popping sound, and she was like, ‘Is that a popping sound?’ And I said, ‘Yeah,’ and one semi goes by, and a second later, the truck explodes,” Brooks explained.
The three of them took cover. Just as fire and EMS crews arrived, the driver became conscious and walked into the ambulance.
In the weeks following, Brooks has with the truck driver, who’s at home recovering.
Brooks says the driver thanked him for saving his life.
“He says, ‘Now I get to see my kids again,'” Brooks said. “I gave him a big hug, and we are like, ‘We’re going to be connected forever.'”
Brooks has been unable to track down the other trucker who helped him. He says he wants to hug her and thank her for helping him save a life that night.